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Edwin Jackson returned to his roots Saturday as he hosted his fourth annual Edwin Jackson Baseball Clinic at the Child, Youth & School Services baseball complex.
With the help of other names in baseball, including Glen Davis, Garey Ingram, Detroit Tigers legends Jake Wood and Willie Horton, and Dontrell Willis, 70 kids received a crash course in baseball fundamentals.
Jackson, now a pitcher with the Washington Nationals, didnt return to Fort Benning with a World Series ring this year, after he won one last year with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals defeated the Nationals in the 2012 NLDS.
Jackson is currently a free agent and is unsure about where he will play next year. In his 10-year career, he has played on seven teams, but that, he said, has actually allowed him to meet more people and in turn make his clinic better each year.
Weve been able to take things from the previous years and improve on them, he said. Each year we continue to do it Im able to bring more people out and get more people involved.
B.J. Upton, outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays, and his brother, Justin Upton, outfielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks, were slated to appear at the clinic, but had to cancel at the last minute, Jackson said.
But Willis proved to be a big new addition to this years clinic. The former World Series champion with the Florida Marlins taught the basics of balance and direction in pitching, and importance of finding the strike zone.
You cant stand on your own two feet without direction and balance, Willis said. If youre pitching off one leg, you definitely need that. Those are great foundations to build on.
Jackson even went to the plate to let the young pitchers pitch to him. Zachary Garcia, an 11-year old member of the Northern Little League, blew a fastball by Jackson for a strike.
It was pretty nice that I got to throw a strike to him, Garcia said. The first time I was nervous, but the second time I calmed down because I knew I could throw to him.
Jackson held a media meet-and-greet Friday at After 5 Sports Grill and Bar, and was asked why he didnt hold the clinic in Atlanta, where he currently lives.
Im not from Atlanta, I dont claim Atlanta (as home). I only live in Atlanta, he said.
Jackson got his start in sports with the Fort Benning CYSS and went on to win the Georgia High School Association AAAA state championship with the Shaw Raiders in 2001. His father is retired from the Army and was stationed at Fort Benning.
He wants anyone who is growing up in the military to know they have the same opportunities he did, he said.
It lets them know that you were in the same place they are, he said. (I) didnt do it coming from a different situation. If I had a chance to do it it definitely lets them know its possible for them.