20 Sep

glory days

It would be remiss to let September end without another nod to the 1984 Jackson Mets. Thirty years ago this month, the JaxMets won the Texas League championship, the second of five pennants the franchise would claim during its 25-year run at Smith-Wills Stadium. The ’84 OJMs (from the “Our Jackson Mets” pregame intro) went 83-53 overall and won both halves handily in the TL East with a roster that included, at one time or another, 19 players who made it to the big leagues. There were so many players who made huge contributions that season it’s hard to note them all. Calvin Schiraldi went 14-3 with a 2.88 ERA and was the league’s pitcher of the year. Lenny Dykstra led the league in runs with 100; he also stole 53 bases while batting .275 with six homers and 52 RBIs. Billy Beane, in what he called his “junior year” in Jackson, had a breakout season: .281, 20 homers, 72 RBIs, 26 steals. Bill Max, who never made the majors, had a TL-best 16 game-winning RBIs plus 11 bombs. Al Pedrique led the league’s shortstops with a .961 fielding percentage. He also hit .285. Dave Cochrane led the team with 22 home runs. Ed Hearn — a platooning catcher — batted .312 with 11 homers and 51 RBIs. Randy Milligan hit .275 with nine homers and 34 RBIs in half a season before being injured. Joe Graves had 17 saves and nine wins out of the bullpen. Jeff Innis notched eight saves. Floyd Youmans won six games and fanned 87 batters in 86 innings. Other pitchers of note included Jay Tibbs, Randy Myers, Rick Aguilera and Roger McDowell. There was even a Mississippian on the club: ornery left-hander Rich Pickett, of Crystal Springs, who went 5-0 with four saves and a 2.27 ERA in 23 appearances. The JaxMets beat a very good Beaumont team — a San Diego Padres affiliate that went 89-47 that season — in six games in the TLCS. Sam Perlozzo earned TL manager of the year honors. The next year, he took a very different club (led by Biloxi’s Barry Lyons) and won the pennant again. Those truly were the glory days at old Smith-Wills. P.S. Props to Williams Perez and Kyle Kubitza for being named by the Atlanta Braves as the pitcher and hitter of the year at Double-A Mississippi. There were several others who could have won the awards on a very talented club that missed making the Southern League postseason by a hair.

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