Kerry Jackson: scorer, statistician, administrator who continues to serve
22 February 2015
As we continue to focus on nominations for Baseball Australia Diamond Awards – which will be announced next Saturday - Australian Baseball Alumni salutes one of our longest-serving volunteers and administrators at state and national level.
Since making the transition from cricket to baseball scoring in 1977, Kerry Jackson has been at the forefront of baseball administration in New South Wales, logging an impressive record across numerous senior roles – including directorship of major tournaments.
Actively engaged in the sport during summer and winter, she has been a dedicated and effective worker who has earned the respect and admiration of the baseball community.
As has been the case with many people over the years, it was an association with cricket that brought Kerry Jackson into baseball circles.
“In 1977 I was scoring for Ryde Eastwood Leagues Cricket Club when they decided they wanted to do something during the winter season,” Kerry Jackson Australian Baseball Alumni this week. “They put together a baseball team with a couple of guys who had played, and two who had seen a game – but the rest were rookies.”
“We went along to the first game, they handed me a scorebook, said “It’s just like cricket”, and off I went.”
Very quickly developing an attachment to the sport, Kerry Jackson worked as a volunteer in the original Australian Baseball League, including stints with Sydney Blues, Sydney Storm and as a league statistician for several years. She has some vivid recollections of the old league and – from the perspective of her current administrative roles – she has had the opportunity to draw some comparisons with how the rebirthed league is travelling.
“The original ABL was a massive learning curve,” she said. “I scored the first game in Sydney – at the Sydney Football Stadium – as official scorer for the Sydney Metros. To say that was an experience would be an understatement, especially when I had the “pleasure” of travelling with the team on a six-day road trip to Melbourne.”
“I travelled with the Sydney Blues and Sydney Storm for several years and I saw all of the Australian baseball grounds. The crowds in those days were great, there was TV coverage and the community spirit was fabulous.”
Sadly though, Kerry Jackson feels that the new league is thus far lagging behind other sports in marketing and promotion – especially in Sydney, one of the centres where the sport will need to gain a serious foothold if the league is to remain viable long-term.
“I am a little disappointed by some of the features of the current ABL,” she said. “I strongly believe that there are too many import players in some franchises and that the competition is not as even as it should be. In the original league, teams had only three or four imports and I believe that helped create more interest among the local sporting community.”
“The crowds that we used to get at Parramatta Stadium really were a sight to behold.”
A long-serving official and administrator at various levels, Kerry Jackson has compiled a remarkable resume. She was a senior administrator for the 1999 Intercontinental Cup and the 2000 Sydney Olympics and she has been tournament director for national Championships in Sydney and Canberra. She is currently the Competition Manager for New South Wales State League and has been a senior administrator for Sydney Winter Baseball League since 2000.
She is very well-placed to make observations on the current state of the sport at grassroots level.
“I have not had a lot of involvement with junior baseball in New South Wales, although all of my children did play the sport at some stage,” she said. “I have been pleased, though, to note the quality of players that are coming through the ranks in NSW and moving on through the senior leagues.”
“My main disappointment is that there is not a greater connection between the junior associations and the senior leagues – especially the State League. All junior players need to have a team and a purpose to aspire to, be it Baulkham Hills or Blue Sox. I would really like to see far greater interaction between all of the associations in New South Wales.”
Over almost forty years of involvement, Kerry Jackson has enjoyed a wide range of baseball experiences, some of them more uplifting and less forgettable than others that might not make the highlight reel.
“Baseball has given me some memorable experiences,” she said. “Who can ever forget Gary White’s hit in the 1999 Intercontinental Cup – to score the go ahead run – and then Grant Balfour striking out the last Cuban batter to secure the Cup? I was working as Sports Services Manager up in the booth at the Sydney Showground and I can tell you I did an awful lot of yelling.”
“That was followed by the same role at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, truly a once in a lifetime experience. Even as great as it was to watch our hometown Olympics, being part of a behind the scenes workforce was absolutely amazing.”
Among her all-time favourite memories in the sport, Kerry Jackson mentions travelling to Suva for the South Pacific Games in 2003.
“The baseball field was built for the games, and as the first pitch was thrown the grader drove out through a gate in the centrefield fence,” she recalls.
“Facilities were rustic, to say the least. The power supply was an extension cord running from the main stadium, over a road via trees and down a pole into our tent. We went live to the internet for the Gold Medal game, with the services of a satellite phone. And then – to top it all off – our flight back to Nadi was delayed and they wouldn’t let us on the flight to Sydney.”
“We were put up at a very nice hotel for the night and then flew home business class the next day!”
Herself the consummate baseball volunteer, Kerry Jackson is well-placed to speak about the role and the importance of our army of willing, unpaid workers in the sport.
“Australian baseball simply could not survive without volunteers,” she said. “I have served on quite a few tournament committees over the years and the dedication and tenacity of some of the people I have met is staggering. I really believe that most people who have not been personally involved have no idea of the amount of work that is required to successfully run a tournament – be it an Under 10s Gala Day, National Championships or even the Olympics.”
“In all states of Australia there are bands of tireless volunteers, a lot of whom you will never see. They sell tickets, prepare food for players, mark fields, wash uniforms, score games and complete many other thankless tasks to keep this game that we all love running.”
Like so many of our baseball volunteers, Kerry Jackson neither seeks nor expects plaudits and other personal recognition for the choices and the commitments that she has made over many years in the sport – commitments that have posed their own challenges and have delivered their own intrinsic degrees of satisfaction.
“Over the years I have made numerous friendships and a few enemies. I have lots of memories that will never fade,” she said. “Though while I am delighted to have been nominated for Volunteer of the Year, I could not possibly have continued to do what I do without the support and assistance of my husband (Merv), my family and all my very special friends within the baseball community.”
Australian Baseball Alumni extends its appreciation to Kerry Jackson for her assistance in preparing this story. We offer our congratulations and our best wishes to all finalists for Baseball Australia Diamond Awards.
Image: Baseball Australia