Grant Jackson, Pirates World Series Winner, Dies at 78

The left-hander who won Game 7 of the 1979 World Series died of COVID-19 complications.

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Grant Jackson, the last pitcher to win a World Series game for the Pittsburgh Pirates, has died. 

Jackson, a native of Fostorio, Ohio, died in Canonsburg Hospital Tuesday as the result of COVID-19 related complications. He was 78.

Jackson was a reliever on the 1979 Pirates, taking the hill in the 5th inning of Game 7 against the Baltimore Orioles. He pitched 2 1/3 innings before handing the ball to Kent Tekulve, having held the Orioles scoreless through his appearance while the Pirates took a 2-1 lead. (They would go on to win 4-1.) Jackson’s game-winning role was part of a stellar postseason career; in 13 playoff and World Series appearances, the left-hander posted a 2.55 ERA and a 3-0 record.

He is one of only 10 Black pitchers to record a win in a World Series game.

During that 1979 campaign, the most recent Pirates championship season, Jackson went 8-5 with a 2.96 ERA. His career numbers were similarly strong: an 86-75 record and a 3.46 ERA, with 79 career saves.

Pirates President Travis Williams told that Jackson “remained dedicated to the Pirates and the city of Pittsburgh since his retirement in 1982,” the year of his last big-league appearance, a one-game final stint with Pittsburgh. “He was an active board member of our Alumni Association who was always willing to help make an impact in our community.”

Jackson appeared in three different World Series during the 1970s, with three different teams: Baltimore in 1971 (against the Pirates, switching clubhouses for the ’79 series), the New York Yankees in 1976 and the Pirates. His career began with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1965, where he pitched for six seasons; he represented Philadelphia in the 1969 All-Star Game. He also played with the Montreal Expos and the Kansas City Royals.

In 2018, Jackson shared his pitching philosophy with the Baltimore Sun. “The name of the game is throw strikes, and that’s what I did. I’m told that I never walked two batters in a row. I don’t know about that, but I know I whacked two in a row, after my own guys got hit.”

He also told the Sun that he had settled in the Pittsburgh area, preferring to spend his evenings at a local V.F.W. hall — keeping things in moderation, his habit was to “have two drinks, shoot the bull and be home by 9.”

Jackson is survived by his wife Millie, to whom he was married for more than 50 years, as well as his children Debra, Yolanda and Grant Jr., and 10 grandchildren.

Categories: Pirates, The 412