One of the greatest players to ever come out of the state of Idaho, Jackson finished his career with 194 wins. Had the right-hander spent any time with decent teams, he assuredly would have reached 200 wins but Larry often toiled with mid-level clubs. A valuable workhorse during the 1960s, Jackson was always among the league leaders in both complete games and shutouts. A four-time All-Star, Larry’s career winning percentage is just a tick above .500 due in large part to playing with teams that boasted suspect quality.
Signed out of Boise State by the Cardinals in 1951, Jackson made his Major League debut with the Cardinals in 1955. The right-hander didn’t impress as a rookie and the following season was used exclusively out of the bullpen. After two less than distinguished seasons in the Majors, Larry started to put it together in 1957. Named to his first All-Star team that season, Jackson went 15-9 for the Cardinals and topped the 200 innings pitched plateau for the first time. The Idaho native would have eleven seasons in the Majors with at least 200 frames worked.
Larry made his second All-Star appearance in ’58 when he racked up 124 strikeouts. He was the toughest pitcher to take yard in the NL during the 1959 campaign as he coughed up an average of 0.5 homeruns per nine innings of work. At the top of his game in 1960, Jackson paced the NL in games started and innings pitched. Jackson made his third All-Star appearance as he logged 282 innings out of his right arm. He notched 18 wins for the Redbirds and set his career high with 171 strikeouts. Although his workload was diminished a bit in the power oriented season of 1961, Larry finished third in shutouts that season.
Jackson fashioned a 3.75 ERA in 1961 and posted an identical earned run average the following season. He went 16-11 for the Cardinals but the Redbirds felt they needed some power in their lineup so they shipped Larry off to the Cubs with Lindy McDaniel for slugger George Altman and pitcher Don Cardwell. The trade lit a fire under Jackson and he was in top form for the Cubs in 1963. Although he had a losing 14-18 record, Larry set his career high with a tidy 2.55 ERA. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 2.83-to-1 as he was named to his fourth All-Star squad. Although his ERA climbed the following season, Jackson had his only 20-win campaign with the ’64 Cubs. He went 24-11 and finished as the runner-up in the Cy Young vote. He was just two innings shy of working 300 frames.
Jackson’s record fell to 14-21 the following season despite decent peripheral stats. However, after a lackluster start to the 1966 campaign, the Cubs sent him and Bob Buhl to the Phillies for future Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins and Adolfo Phillips. Just like before, the trade ignited Larry and he pitched like a house afire the rest of the season. He paced the NL in shutouts and posted a sub 3.00 ERA for the Phillies. He posted a nifty 3.10 ERA in 1967 and then had one of the greatest final seasons any player ever had in 1968. Larry fashioned a 2.77 ERA in 244 innings of work for the Phillies, but when the Phillies left the aging right-hander unprotected in the expansion draft, the newly formed Montreal Expos claimed him. Jackson, who had spent his entire career with low-grade teams, opted to retire rather than work for an expansion team, destined to be a bottom-feeder.
W 194/L 183/PCT .515/ERA 3.40/G 558/CG 149/SHO 37/IP 3,263/H 3,206/BB 824/SO 1,709