GLENDALE, Ariz. — Bo Jackson joked Tuesday that all the young players in White Sox camp had to look him up on Google.
But make no mistake, everyone from the 20-something prospects to international players to coaches to the veterans know well the team’s newest ambassador and former two-sport star. A day after he arrived at Camelback Ranch, Jackson said Tuesday he’s here to interact with prospects, fans and to “mess with people” through Saturday.
Adam Dunn, the only other two-sport star in the organization, said Jackson’s presence in camp is positive because of the energy he brings to the field. Dunn said he’s not star struck with Jackson in town but it’s as close as it comes.
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“Just to be seen be around,” Dunn said. “That’s the guy. Everyone has a guy when they’re growing up and that was mine. He was a stud, two sports. That’s the only book I ever read in my life, was “Bo Knows Bo.”
Jackson isn’t familiar with many faces in camp aside from manager Robin Ventura and coaches Harold Baines and Bobby Thigpen. He also knows Dunn, who was a redshirt freshman quarterback at University of Texas, and Paul Konerko.
But Jackson has plenty of players to learn and has spent time each the first two days playing catch, interacting and hitting fungos. Jackson said one player who stands out is outfielder Avisail Garcia.
“(Garcia) looks more like an NFL defensive end than a right fielder,” Jackson said. “He's younger than my youngest kid. He's just a baby and talent just oozes from his pores. He's a good strong kid and you can tell he's gonna be a tremendous asset to the team.”
Though only 22 and from Venezuela, Garcia knows Jackson well. Garcia isn’t much of a football fan but said Jackson’s accolades — he was an All-Star, a Pro-Bowler and a Heisman winner — speak volumes.
“It makes me feel great when someone like that talks about you like that,’’ Garcia said. “It’s impressive. A guy to be an All-Star in both sports, you don’t see that very often.”
Unlike Dunn, pitcher Chris Beck was awestruck when Jackson walked into camp. Now 23, Beck was only four when Jackson’s professional career came to an end. But Beck didn’t need his iPad or his smart phone to figure out who Jackson was and said most of his peers wouldn’t either. Beck hopes to introduce himself before Jackson leaves town.
“That always sticks out in my mind is how strong and athletic he is and how he set the table for athleticism in his day and age. Nobody has really lived up to that.” Beck said. “There’s no way of not knowing (him)…His legacy and his stories are almost bigger than he is.”
Jackson could create a few more stories over the course of this week. With that kind of resume, Jackson has been given privileges few others ever experience.
“My job is to just walk around and mess with people for a week,” Jackson said. “Just mess with people. They say I have diplomatic immunity for this week, so I can mess with anybody I want to. Except Robin.”