Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sonny Jackson (#415)

Roland "Sonny" Jackson was the Topps all-rookie shortstop in 1966. (Two seasons later, the Astros' Hector Torres would also be the Topps all-rookie shortstop.)

Jackson was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1963, and made an orderly 3-year progression (A, AA, AAA) through their farm system. After each minor-league season, he was called up to Houston, playing in 1, 9, and 10 games in 1963-65.

Jackson took over the starting shortstop job on day 1 of the 1966 season, replacing veteran Bob Lillis (and Eddie Kasko), who had manned the position since the team's inception in 1962. Sonny started 150 games that season, batting .292 with 174 hits and a rookie record 49 stolen bases. He also finished 2nd in the NL Rookie of the Year voting to Cincinnati's 3rd baseman Tommy Helms.

In 1967, Jackson's average fell off to .237, his stolen bases down to 22, and after the season he was packed off to Atlanta with part-time 1st baseman Chuck Harrison for pitcher Denver Lemaster and infielder Denis Menke. (Not to worry, in 1968 rookie Hector Torres also landed the Topps all-rookie shortstop slot, but also like Jackson, Torres' rookie season was the high point of his time in Houston.)

Sonny played shortstop for the Braves for the next 3 seasons, but only started a few more games there than Orlando Martinez (in '68) and Gil Garrido (69-70). Jackson was the team's regular center fielder during the 1971 season. (That season, Rico Carty missed the entire year with an injury, and Hank Aaron was starting his 2-year stint as the Braves' 1st baseman.)

Sonny split the 1972 season between the Braves and triple-A, then returned in 1973, but as a pinch-hitter and backup OF-SS. The remainder of his major-league career consisted of 5 games in July 1974, as he played most of the season in triple-A before getting his release at season's end.

Jackson ended his career in the minors with the Padres ('75) and White Sox ('76).


Commishbob said...

Nice to see a Sonny Jackson card. I moved here to Houston in 1967 and developed a fascination with the Astros. I think it was because of the Dome and the fact that it was just a different situation than reading about the Yanks and Mets every day of my life. Hard to explain. I actually kept a scrapbook of their box-scores and newspaper pictures in '67.

Jim from Downingtown said...

What a coincidence! I kept a scrapbook in 1967 of various Phillies photos from the newspaper.

I found that book last year and have posted a few clippings to my 1960s blog.

I haven't been able to find it since moving earlier this year, but when I do, there's plenty of Bob Uecker action shots coming your way!

Matt Runyon said...

That's a nice rookie season. Too bad he couldn't keep it up.

Douglas said...

I was curious about Sonny's power surge in rookie year...well sort of...according to his 1970 card all 3 home runs were inside the park hits. It is also odd that a player as fast as he was had only 6doubles in nearly 600 ABs.

Anonymous said...

awesome post