A farewell to Brett Jackson

BOISE, ID – Peter Jackson knew pretty early that his little boy, Brett Jackson, was going to be something special.

“Every dad thinks his son will be that player,” Jackson said. “You watch him and say, ‘Did you see that?’. The thing was, other people would say that to me. Now, that was kind of kooky.”

Brett’s effect on his peers’ parents only grew, yet he never let what others said go to his head.

“We don’t like attitude in this family,” his dad said. “So we didn’t let him get ahead of himself.”

But he was ahead of every other kid.

“In track races, he’d beat everyone by ten feet,” Jackson said. “When he was little he didn’t have a blanket, he had a bat. He used to run around the house and say, ‘Me a baseball man.'”

And a baseball man he became. Jackson grew up on the outside of the “in” group of athletes. And he used his lack of complete acceptance to continue to drive himself.

He played shortstop in high school and decided to try to go to his dad’s alma mater Cal.

“I remember recruiting him and asking, ‘Hey, listen, how married are you to the position of shortstop? What if we need a third baseman?’,” Cal coach David Esquer said. “He said, Coach, I’ll play anywhere. I’ll play third. I’ll play first. I’ll play center. I’ll play anywhere. Whatever the team needs.’ That’s kind of his personality.”

It didn’t take long for Esquer to catch on to the special abilities of Jackson.

“There’s just a little more of everything there,” said Esquer. “We have some kids that are strong. He’s stronger. He has that body that projects out, and that’s a major league body on him, you know? Size and strength, his arm strength. He’s improved every year in the outfield. I mean, he’s a legitimate good outfielder and I think what makes him valuable is he’s a centerfielder that’s going to stay in centerfield. He’s not a college centerfielder that everyone feels needs to move to left or right.”

Jackson had to work on his body through his career at Cal. And he was able to put himself in a position of being told he might go early in the Major League Baseball draft.

“It wasn’t a calm situation on draft day,” his father said, tearing up. “He and I sat in the other room [away] from all our family; it was just Brett and I. We had phone lines, the internet, instant message, and texting. And nothing was ringing. When he wasn’t drafted early he blamed himself and said, ‘It’s my fault. I’m better than that. I know I can do better.’ Just then, the Cubs selected him and he looked up at me and said, ‘This is what I always wanted to do. I wanted to be a Cub.'”

Now, that humble athlete is working his way up in the Cubs system and he saw plenty of success in a Boise Hawks uniform. It would be easy for his parents to believe he can go as far as he needs to, and they do. But they keep their son in check.

But his coach wastes no time talking about the potential of Brett Jackson.

“I would not be surprised to see him play major league baseball,” Esquer said. “I’ve told him that since his freshman year. I said, you’ve got a ways to go, but that’s what we’re working with. so it’s worth the time and it’s worth the effort because it was in him. I may be going out on a limb here, but I’ve seen a lot of players that have gone through our program that have got there, and he’s got it. He’s not an entitled kid. I think he has a great family that really kept him humble and wasn’t going to let him get too big headed or let him get ahead of himself. They really understood to be humble they weren’t going to let him just kind of live on his successes. I credit his father who’s really close to him, really keeping him grounded and really understanding it can be gone in an instant and it doesn’t do any good to think you’re entitled. Life can humble you.”

What began as a little boy with a little bat has grown into a man with professional abilities. But ask his father, his coach, or Jackson himself, and the credit goes to the mother and father that taught him that success went beyond the baseball field.

Success is measured by those you love.

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