August 18, 2019

Randy Jackson, a Fence-Clearing Footnote to Baseball History, Dies at 93

Randy Jackson, a Fence-Clearing Footnote to Baseball History, Dies at 93

Ransom Joseph Jackson Jr. was born on Feb. 10, 1926, in Little Rock, Ark., the son of Ransom Sr. and Ann Polk Coolidge Jackson. His father, a former Princeton University baseball captain, prospered in the 1920s running a cotton brokerage business with two partners and offices in New York, London and Paris. After the business failed in the stock market crash of 1929, he sold life insurance. The Yankee catcher Bill Dickey was a family friend.

Randy won three Southwest Conference batting titles and played halfback in two Cotton Bowl games, for Texas Christian in 1945 and the University of Texas in 1946, while enrolled in World War II-era naval officer training programs on their campuses.

He was signed by the Cubs in 1947 and made his debut for them in May 1950. Along the way he acquired the name Handsome Ransom. (“The nickname has less to do with looks and more to do with a sportswriter looking for something to rhyme with Ransom,” he wrote in a 2016 memoir, “Handsome Ransom Jackson: Accidental Big Leaguer,” written with Gaylon H. White.)

He remained with the Dodgers when they moved to Los Angeles in 1958, was sent to Cleveland late that season, then finished his career as a Cub again in 1959. A right-handed batter, he hit 103 home runs and had a career batting average of .261. During the off-seasons he worked in his family’s laundry business and sold life insurance.

Jackson’s first marriage, to Ruth Fowler, ended in divorce. He is survived by his second wife, Terry (Yeargan) Jackson; two sons, Randy and Chuck, and a daughter, Ann Bolton, from his first marriage; two daughters, Ginny Bunn and Meredith Jackson-Parton, and a son, Ransom, from his second marriage; 13 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. His son Randy said the cause of death was pneumonia.

Jackson, who owned an insurance agency in Athens after his playing days, still received autograph requests in his late years, though he said some of the letter writers thought they were reaching the musician Randy Jackson, a longtime judge on “American Idol.”

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