We also talked shop about the Lady Truckers, what we can expect from them this season on the golf course and hist coaching influences.
Here is this week’s Saturday Conversation.
Jake Furr: As you know, I am a huge bobblehead guy with about 50 on my work desk and what you have here is an impressive collection. As I have learned, just about every bobblehead has a story behind it. What is the coolest story you can tell behind one of yours?
Chris Jackson: One of the craziest ones was the Jobu bobblehead and the first one they did at the Lake County Captains. They only gave out 1,000 and I had the entire family with me that day. We got there super early like two or three hours before the gates opened and the line was already wrapped around the stadium. We were actually counting heads as we walked to the back of the line to see if we were going to get one or not. Luckily, we were in the group still and we got one. Eddie Harris from Major League was there that day and we got him to sign it. It was just a lot of fun with the family.
JF: Everyone has their favorite one. Mine is the Terry Francona riding the scooter because it was one my wife bought me for my birthday so it has a special meaning, but which one up there on those shelves is your favorite?
CJ: (long pause) Man I have never been put on the spot like this before.
JF: (Laughs) It is hard to choose just one isn’t it?
CJ: It is like picking a favorite child. But I am a huge fan of the original Woody Hayes. I have him up there with Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer. That one is going for like $300-$350 on the market. I have a Bernie Kosar up there and I am a huge Bernie fan so that one is up there. I have a Bob Wickman up there and that one is one of my favorites. He was my favorite Indians closer of all time. I was a member of the Wickman’s Warriors. Unfortunately I have outgrown that t-shirt as adulthood hit. They are all special because they all have a fun story or memory behind them.
JF: What was it that got you interested in bobbleheads? Do you have a first one that just got things started?
CJ: I have to think back to my first one, but when I was a young kid, my grandfather had the old school Cleveland Browns one on the TV stand next to his bad call brick. He was a die hard Cleveland sports fan and even when I was a little like that bobblehead was up there, I was allowed to touch it, but to me that was the holy grail. That is the one I always go back to and think of.
JF: Is there one up here that you do not have that you just need to add to your collection? What is that prime one you are dying to get?
CJ: The one I really wanted to get was last summer I saw a John Gruden 3-foot Corona sponsored one where he could actually hold a Corona. They had one here in town at Miller’s. I tried calling everyone I could think of and even every manager in the place just trying to get that one. Then it miraculously disappeared. I kept calling and to actually get one of those, you have to travel a way for it. But it gets harder and harder, because every year they are getting more creative with these things.
JF: I am new to collecting them with just 50 so far. It seems like everyone has one or can get one at a give away. Like before some of those games would only have like 1,000 given away. But the minor league games are where you have to go to get the unique ones. What are some unique ones you have up here?
CJ: I have the bat man one at the Akron Aeros game where he is an adult and he would run out and get the bats and do dances and heckle the other team when he would go get the bat so that one is kind of cool. I have a Jake Tyler who was on the grounds crew for the Toledo Mud Hens. There is actually one I am looking for from this year. Akron made one of an usher who had been there for a long time, so I need to get that one up here. I have the Shooter McGavin from Akron too. That was a very fun day. He still goes to about 50 ballparks a year it seems. Maybe he is hurting for some cash. I also have this Red Birds one from the Memphis Red Birds minor league team. My sister graduated from the University of Memphis with her PHD so my brother and I, we were still in high school at the time, we had a football scrimmage on a Saturday and she graduated on a Sunday. As soon as the scrimmage is over, we jump in the car, drive to the airport, fly to Memphis, rent a car and catch her graduation and head to a game that night. We are waiting to go to the game so we go to this bar and this one is sitting up on a shelf, some one left it there and we kind of just smooth talked our way into getting that before we left.
I actually got the 3-foot Grady Sizemore for free.
JF: How in the world did you get that for free?!
CJ: I was on the Indians website back in 2007 I think and they used to do ticket auctions where you could get front row bleacher seats for really cheap. There was a game I wanted to go to and I found them on that site. I wanted to sit in the front row because one of the power hitting teams was coming to town and I wanted a ball in batting practice. I got the tickets dirt cheap. A couple of weeks later, I get a call and I thought it was a telemarketer telling me I won a prize and I just thought, “B.S. I didn’t win anything.” They said they drew from the auction winners and I had won a signed picture of the All-Stars from that year with Sabathia, Martinez and Sizemore. So I just thought that was cool and it comes in and I was ecstatic. A couple of weeks later, I get another call and because I won this picture, I was put into another drawing and they said I won that too. They told me my prize would be there in two weeks and I had no clue what it was. The 3-foot Grady Sizemore shows up on my door step.
JF: I have seen those 3-footers online and they go for close to $300-400 depending one who they are.
CJ: So that is kind of a cool story. The most expensive one here I actually got for free by pure luck.
JF: Lets talk a little bit about that golf team. Who are we going to see on the course representing the Lady Truckers?
CJ: We have 10 girls playing this season. We bring back two letter winners in Anna Little ad Bethany Cring so those two will anchor our team all year. After that, we have Hannah Dumbeck, Madison Duncan, Bella Blaney who are our three girls coming back from our JV team last year so they have some experience. We have six newcomers in Carmen Krichbaum, Noelle Jackson, Regan Kastor, Chole Thomas, Alysia Rodriguez and Cassidy Risner. Some have golf experience and some don’t. We will be inexperienced at the varsity level but I think our Top 2 or even 3 will be very competitive. Hopefully we can find that four, five or six and make some waves in the SBC.
JF: This is your first year as head coach after volunteering last year, what were come things you learned from Don Nardecchia? He was a golf coach legend.
CJ: I always observed everything Don did and made sure I was at every meeting or event he was a part of and just really took notes about how to be a golf coach that way I was always prepared to take over. He did a great job of laying the foundation for the program and now it is my job to come in and take over and hopefully put that championship banner up.
JF: You are involved in just about everything to do with Norwalk athletics. I see you at football games and you are the first base coach in baseball. What is it that got you into coaching and especially at Norwalk?
CJ: I am a 1996 Norwalk grad and I had coaches like Wes Douglas. I had influential coaches in my life like Leroy Carroll, Joe Popovich, Rudy Love, Tom Prize, Wes Douglas, John Hankskler and Ken Broz who just kept me focused and on the right path as I was growing up. I also had my dad Mark Jackson who was a tremendous influence on me. When I was presented with the opportunity to be a teacher and a coach, I had to jump at it. That is my way of giving back. There are a lot of coaches who did a lot of great things for me and I cannot think of a better way to give back to these kids the way they did for me.
Sports Editor Jake Furr is sitting down with a player or a coach every week for a Saturday Conversation. If you have a suggestion to who he should sit down with next, email him at [email protected] or tweet at him at @JakeFurr11.