Baseball is in the Blood for Mount Olive Hurler

By Evan Wechman

 

Eight-Year-old Jackson Patterson loves throwing his fastball for his Mount Olive travel team.  Though he plays for the Mount Olive Marauders in the eight and under league, his success has caught the eye of many coaches and older players as well.  This season he has pitched about ten innings and has struck out 26 batters while not allowing a hit.

According to Patterson, he credits both his love for baseball and pitching success to his father.  “My Dad pitched in high school and college, so he knows a lot about baseball.  He’s very good at explaining things and so I am able to follow his advice.”

Recently, on a Saturday morning at a game in West Milford, a crowd of older baseball players in the Mount Olive travel league saw firsthand what Patterson was able to do and came away very impressed.  Jackson’s father, Chris, said many of them were amazed at the speed he was throwing.

“His coaches have told me having a catch with him is like throwing with an adult. And I agree.  His arm is almost as strong as mine now,” said the elder Patterson.

While his fastball has not been clocked with any professional radar equipment, many of the players and coaches feel he may be hitting as high as 60 miles per hour on many pitches.

Though Jackson’s father is proud of his son’s success on the field, he takes even greater pride in his ability to stay humble.  “His (Jackson) dedication is unmatched and he is always cheering his teammates on.”

It also has created a special relationship between the two.  Not only do they attend many Mets (their favorite team) games at Citi Field, but Jackson studies the game almost as closely as many experts.  According to Mr. Patterson, “Jackson is a student of the game.”  He adds his son is learning more about the game every day and is probably more aware of the different facets of the sport than his peers. Jackson has even learned from his father how to correctly score games, calculating hits and errors just like it’s done in the big leagues.

This is high praise since Jackson’s father shined as a pitcher at West Morris Central High School before trying out for many major league organizations in the 1990’s.  He even played a year of semi-pro ball with both former and future professionals but suffered many tendinitis injuries while playing at the collegiate level.

Baseball seems to be in the family’s blood as Mr. Patterson admits both his father and grandfather played competitive baseball both in New Jersey and nationally. His father was an all-state player here in New Jersey and his grandfather played with various Brooklyn Dodgers affiliates around the country. Even more interesting, Jackson’s great grandmother played professional baseball for one of the few all-womans leagues that were in existence at that time.  

She even received a marriage proposal from one of the greatest hitters of all time, Ted Williams.  She said no, and the Patterson family’s baseball story is still being written.

Whether Jackson reaches the same level as Williams, or some of his beloved Mets players is secondary to his father.  Mr. Patterson has played with many young stars during his career and unfortunately witnessed many young boys pushed to their breaking point by over-involved parents.  He does not intend to make such a mistake with Jackson.” I want to see him use his natural born talents but most of all, it is a major source of our bond.  “I don’t want to push him.  I just want him to be happy.”

 

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