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Ron Jackson, Spokane Valley baseball coach, dies

Ron Jackson in 2010 (J. Bart Rayniak)
Ron Jackson in 2010 (J. Bart Rayniak)

Ron Jackson, 83, a popular professional baseball player and for nearly a quarter century mentor to and coach of countless Spokane Valley baseball players, has died due to complications from a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Jackson played eight seasons of professional baseball, his career interrupted for two years by combat in the Korean War. Jackson had a career .305 batting average.

The second baseman first signed with the St. Louis Browns organization in 1948 and played for various organizations in the low minor leagues throughout the country. He had a brief stint with Portland in the Pacific Coast League in 1954. During the mid-1950s he spent four seasons in the Western International League, including the Spokane Indians in 1956 when he batted .332, scored 114 runs and hit 37 doubles and was a WIL All-Star. Twice that year he hit four doubles in a game, a league record.

From 1960 through 1983 he coached the Valley’s American Legion baseball teams, sponsored by Cal Smith Sports and Appleway Chevrolet. Between 1975 and 1977 they made three straight state tournament appearances, finishing second and third the initial two trips.

He and his wife Sal were still coaching, in the Spokane Valley Baseball youth league, as late as 1999 and Ron played adult recreational sports until he turned 70.

Ron retired from Wonder Bread and the well-known Valley couple went on to build and own the popular neighborhood bar, Jackson Hole Tavern, sponsoring countless adult recreation sports teams.

Both were advocates for youth, taught swimming, and his widow has been long-active in Democratic Party politics. In 1990 Ron lost in a narrow race for the state legislature.

A memorial service is pending.

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