Edwin Jackson's dad served in the Army for 23 years. "So I have experience dealing with military life," he says. And that's one of the reasons why the Tigers' All-Star pitcher volunteered to participate in the recent Sony PlayStation sponsored Pro versus GI Joe showdown, where real military heroes overseas are given the opportunity to battle online against some of the best gamers the sports world has to offer.
Army Specialist Danielle Pisack of Selden, New York was the lucky soldier who got to not only meet Jackson via webcam from her base in Kuwait, but destroy the Tiger at a game of virtual baseball as the two slugged it out at "MLB 09: The Show."
To add to the atmosphere surrounding the event, Pisack's family was flown to the event in St. Louis and watched as she beat Jackson in a three-inning game, 3-1. After the game, the family was able to catch-up with the soldier in a rare face-to-face conversation using the same webcam Jackson was using while playing the game.
In addition, 20 members of the Missouri National Guard also appeared at the event to take part in their own "MLB 09" competitions. The winner of the National Guard tournament also had the chance to take on Jackson at "The Show," but this time Jackson came through and played like the dominant pitcher he is in real life.
"It was gruesome at times and it was tough," said Ricky Kohler, the member of the National Guard who won the rights to play Jackson. "I prevailed on the Army side and then I got my butt kicked by Edwin Jackson. It's pretty cool actually because he's a really down to Earth guy and I had a lot of fun."
Added Jackson: "It's amazing the advances in technology that will allow you to play someone thousands of miles away. Actually play the game and watch everyone and the players ... and the graphics are so amazing.
"Any chance I have to come back and show my appreciation to the troops over there serving for us and putting their lives on the line is always great to come back and put a smile on somebody's face."