Long after the disappointment of an 8-1 loss to St. Michael the Archangel Catholic was forgotten, Marion Jackson – this year’s lone Van Horn High School senior – will remember the warmth and joy that came from his special Senior Night Celebration.
Jackson, who is in the top 1 percent of his senior class, was honored by his team following the Tuesday night game at Roper Field, as a constant drizzle failed to dampen the enthusiasm of coach Jay Kolster, Jackson’s parents and his teammates.
“This is so special,” said Jackson, who hopes to walk on and play baseball at Wichita State University, where he will study aerospace engineering. “To have my mom and dad, and all my teammates and our fans here, makes it special.
“And what Coach and some other people said about makes me feel so blessed.”
Comments from many Van Horn administrators were read aloud over the PA system by Falcon alum Jay Fisher, who got emotional as the celebration winded down.
“People are asking me about my best memories, and I have so many that I can’t just name one or two – or even one or two games,” said Jackson, who had one of the Falcons’ two hits. “I will always remember the four games we play at Kauffman Stadium and all my teammates and coaches.
“I still keep in touch with a lot of my teammates who graduated in the last couple of years. They may be gone, but they are still family. This is my second home, and today is just so special to me and my family. I will never forget it.”
Kolster said that Jackson is a rare young man who he would trust watching his 2-year-old daughter.
“Special doesn’t even begin to describe what Marion means to me, our team and Van Horn High School,” the coach said. “He has a 4.4 GPA. He’s going to Wichita State to study aerospace engineering.
“He has the ultimate respect of his teammates and his coaches. He is a young man I would trust to watch my 2-year-old daughter. In four years, he has never missed a practice or a game.
“Tonight was his 85th consecutive start. The past three years he has been our best defensive outfielder and we needed him to move to shortstop this year and he’s been great. And he is the type of leader who has the ultimate respect of all his teammates.”
He displayed that leadership after the ceremony when he consoled a teammate who made two errors that led to three unearned runs when he was on the mound.
The 6-6 Guardians scored two unearned runs off Jackson in the top of the first inning, added a solo run in the second and three runs in the fifth – one of which was unearned.
Greg Kingdom pitched seven innings for St. Michael, allowing just one run and two hits, while striking out nine.
“Greg has done a nice job this season,” St. Michael coach Scott Lero said after the Jackson ceremony. “It was nice getting him some early offensive support, although we have done well offensively all season.
“It’s nice to get our record back to .500 and I hope we play some more games like this the rest of the season.”
Landon Vahle swung a big bat for the Guardians as he collected a single and two triples, driving in four runs and scoring twice.
Joey Johnson had the other hit for the 2-11 Falcons.