Sports Babe Of The Day: Justin Jackson, Pitcher in the Toronto Blue Jays Organization, @JaxChillinONE
If you’re a fan of the Blue Jays Organization, the name Justin Jackson (or Jax) shouldn’t be new to you; As a 1st-round pick, Jax was drafted out of his Asheville, NC. high school in 2007, signing with the Toronto Blue Jays at Age 18. Jax has transitioned into the role of Right Handed Pitcher with the Jays Org after playing both Shortstop and Center Field, thanks to a bit of a happy mistake, and is now going into his second season on the mound.
Beyond his skill on the field, Jax is a self professed nerd, with a vast knowledge of the internet and technology, is a bit of a History buff, favoring WWII facts, and has a secret, self-developed talent when it comes to making music. What’s most impressive about his undeniable talents, is that he carries himself with a sense of quiet and humble pride, which is evident within moments of speaking to him; Jax shared his desire to someday be remembered for “being a good guy that always tried to do his best, rather than for his stats on the field.”
With the opportunity to continue discussing his love for the game, and his profession, Jax seemed more excited to share the fact that his Mother is now cancer-free, after battling Breast Cancer this past year. He lovingly shared her news, and spoke highly about her dedication to her newly formed foundation, Project Pink Ribbons, and how he hopes to help her raise awareness about the importance of being checked regularly, and educating loved ones about the warning-signs for cancer.
With his positive character being taken into consideration, it’s no wonder he has such a high number of fans, friends and followers, before reaching the big leagues. With a laugh that Jax shared freely – and often – I quickly recognized why so many are drawn to his personality! I’m proud to introduce Justin Jackson as our latest Sports Babe of the Day!
23 Questions with Justin Jackson
- Who was your number one influence growing up? What made you decide to play baseball?
I would definitely say my father – he played professionally for 14 years. He made it to the big leagues for 80 games… something like that. I’d definitely say “like father, like son”. He was a big influence for me playing baseball.
- Did you play any other sports as a child?
I loved basketball! Giving it up was was one of the harder things for me; I had to stop playing in my Sophomore year in high school, to really focus and get myself prepared to play at the next level in baseball. It was hard to put down what I loved. I’m a big Duke fan!
- It sounds like it was hard, but also a good choice to give up basketball, because you were a 1st round draft pick out of high school! On top of that, you’ve been named a “five tool talent”, you’ve been named player of the week, you’ve been a mid-season all-star, and you’ve made it up to AA Ball so far… To date, what has been your best career-related memory?
It was an exciting time when the Blue Jays called me and told me they wanted me to be a part of their program! I was stunned, happy, and ready to go. Knowing what I know about myself now, and about the game of baseball, is definitely a highlight in my life.
I want to say one of the best memories was a big game in Lansing – it was 4th of July, sold out, there were fireworks after the show, and I had a walk-off hit. I got a pie in the face, was in front of the camera right after the game, and almost hyperventilated during my interview. That was a good time.
- Everyone has a pump-up song for while they’re working out, pre-gaming, getting ready, etc. What song is #1 on your iPod right now?
I’ve been listening to a lot of different music. I like Wiz Khalifa, Lil Wayne… right now if I had to pick one song… you’ve got me off guard! Here’s the thing, I love music, I make music; I have to say maybe something of my own would be my pre-game song. I listen to my own stuff a lot.
- Do you think if you couldn’t play baseball, you’d turn to producing music?
Baseball kind of brought me into that! I had a lot of downtime, so I needed something else to do. Music began to be my outlet. If I had to chose another life, it would be to be on stage, and perform.
- Back to baseball! Are you superstitious when it comes to game-days? Do you have any special rituals you have to do before you’re about to pitch, or do you have any lucky charms?
I would say I used to be! I used to be very superstitious. If I did things wrong, I’d be thrown off, like when I hit, if I put the wrong batting glove on first, I’d be messed up. I tried to get away from those superstitions, because they lead to negative thoughts. There’s one thing though… I would say I’ve had the same shower shoes for years! I don’t want to get rid of them, because they’re my lucky charms in a way.
- What’s the weirdest thing we might find in your suitcase?
I have my beat maker – it’s a user board that has drum pads on it and stuff. That would probably be weird, because you wouldn’t expect that to come out from a pitcher.
- Because you’re constantly traveling for Spring Training, Games, and Instructionals, what’s one thing you can’t leave home without?
My Dre Beats! If I don’t have them, I’m in trouble… I’m lost.
- For your new fans, they may not be aware that you started playing ball, predominantly as a Shortstop, as well as a Center Fielder. How did your transition to Pitcher come about?
I was in AA playing… I was a SS being drafted for a few years, and ended up being a CF, and at that time I got demoted down to High-A again, and was trying to figure out what I was doing with myself. It was during a rough time in my career that I made a play, and threw a ball home and it happened to be in line with the radar gun – it hit 95, and I was like “Oh, I think I know what to do now”. Going into the off-season, my agent had a conversation with the guys in the front office, and they gave us the idea; we bounced me pitching back-and-forth, and they told me if I made that decision, they’d back me 100%. I said “let’s do it”! I didn’t want to get old and think “why didn’t I try pitching.”
- Last season was your first full season as a pitcher, and you were working with a low-90s fastball, a slider, and a changeup. Can you give us a hint about if we can expect anything new from you this year?
My feel for pitching is coming along, so the consistency is improved! Last year I was trying to figure out what kind of pitcher I was. By the end of the year, I had a good idea who Justin Jackson could be as a pitcher. I’d definitely say that I believe in myself a lot as a pitcher, and I’ll continue to get better – that’s what’s important to me – get out there, get experience, get better.
- Well on top of baseball, you’re pretty well known for having killer Swag… what is one current trend that is lacking swag, that you wish everyone would say goodbye to, and leave in the past?
I’m not sure how I feel about Pharell’s hat yet. Wiz Khalifa had one on, in his Instagram too. Before you know it, kids will be wearing that hat all over, looking like Smokey The Bear. I’m hoping that one doesn’t catch on.
- So tell us more about your personal swag! If you were heading to the 2014 ESPYS, what would your outfit of choice be?
Definitely a tailored suit. Nice pair of shoes. Get my hair cut nice. Something GQ! I want it to look like I’m in a James Bond movie.
- Beyond your style, and swag, what else do you want to be remembered for?
For me, I want to be remembered for being a good teammate, and a good guy. When you think about the guys you’ve played with in the past, you don’t necessarily remember all the baseball stuff, the stuff they brought to the field, but you remember their personality and who they were. I want to be that good guy that worked hard, was able to give back to the community, and through charity work, and definitely be a genuine man who was real. Hopefully that’s what people will think of when they hear “Justin Jackson” mentioned.
- What are the top three things on your bucket list?
I want to go to Normandy France, where the WWII Invasion was. I am a big WWII buff! I had a summer where I sat at home and I watched WWII on the History Channel everyday. I love it, and am really interested in it.
I have to get on stage somehow, as a guest appearance or feature or something… give me one song, give me my one time!
I think I have to meet Jay Z and Beyonce – that’s gotta happen!
- Do you have your own Beyonce? Are you single, dating, or locked down?
Let’s keep that private for now!
- We can respect your privacy, but now we’re curious… what do you look for in a significant other?
Obviously, every guy hopes his girl would be hot, you know! Someone I get along with is important. I don’t like to be serious all the time; I like to be fun, and have fun, and I need someone who can reciprocate that! Being funny and enjoyable is a prerequisite, and then after that, sometimes you have to take the good with the bad!
- What do you feel sexiest in?
I feel sexiest in a suit, most likely! Whenever I wear a suit, I feel pretty cool. Baseball pants, I’m about to get dirty… girls love them, but I’m not trying to feel sexy out there. So a suit.
- What is a woman sexiest in?
Yoga pants by far. I’m on that.
- Describe to us what your ideal date looks like.
Something pretty cool… something epic, like at a castle or something! Yeah, renting out a castle with candlelight.
- Describe to us what your ideal #SundayFunday looks like, during the off-season?
Back home it was really cold, so there wasn’t much going on except football. My Sunday Funday would be watching a big football game with the boys, and cookout! Lots of food, lots of chips. Sunday Funday during the off season is about football for sure.
- You’re fantastic about staying connected to your fans on social media – who is your favorite account to follow?
There are some funny Viners for sure. I would say on Instagram, Kevin Hart is hilarious. His Instagram is comedy! I’m into shoes pretty big, and there’s a shoe site I follow, but the most important is that I follow all my teammates. One of my favorite teammates to follow is Daniel Norris, because his pictures are all over the place. I’ve tried to get some of the new boys on there.
- When you interact with your followers, I’m sure a few of them freak out! Have you ever been star-struck, or have you ever fanboyed over meeting any other athletes or celebrities?
Yes! And after that, I can’t get starstruck anymore. I met Derek Jeter when I was 18 at a draft workout! I got to talk to him real quick, and I was freaking out. After that, I’ve met everybody basically else in baseball I want to meet, but being 18 and meeting Jeter was really cool. I was hyperventilating. It was myself and another kid at the draft workout, and they told us to meet him. He came by our batting practice at the cage, and the other guy was like “I can’t do it”, but I was like “I’ve got to do it, this is my only chance” and I did! He had played in my hometown when he was in the minors, so we had something to talk about – it was cool!
- Who would you consider Babely enough to be featured as our next Sports Babe Of The Day?
I guess I should say my roommate, Dwight Smith, since he’s been here for the interview! Other than that? Daniel Norris would be a good guy! He’d be an interesting guy to talk to.
THIS or THAT?
Chocolate or Vanilla
Vanilla Ice Cream!
Beer, or wine
Club or Pub
Rap or Rock
Smooth or Crunchy Peanut Butter
Ouuu. I’ll go with crunchy
Cats or Dogs
Dogs for sure. Hate cats. They’re elusive… Never know what they’re going to do, and I don’t like it.
Sweatpants or Jeans
Twitter or Facebook
Instagram! Twitter over Facebook – I’m off Facebook… I hate it! People are so opinionated, and it’s too much! I don’t want to see paragraphs! We don’t need actual books on there.
Surf or Turf
Steak for sure.
RomCom or Horror
That’s a tough one, because scary movies rattle me, but I’d go with scary movies over chick flicks… Bridesmaids was pretty good though.
Talk or Text
I’m a big texter. I hate the phone… I give you three minutes, and it’s time to get off. I’ll give you FaceTime, it’s the up-and-coming, but I hate the phone.