Blue Jays pitcher Jay Jackson spending off days at Utah hospital with premature son

Blue Jays reliever Jay Jackson is using off days to be with his son, who was born 15 weeks premature.

The life of a professional athlete isn’t always as glamorous as it seems. It can require great sacrifice, just like the one Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jay Jackson is currently making during the team’s off days.

Jackson did not fly with the Blue Jays back to Toronto following Wednesday’s 8-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. As everyone else flew home, he visited his family in Utah.

Blue Jays reliever Jay Jackson has been phenomenal on the mound this season. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Blue Jays reliever Jay Jackson has been phenomenal on the mound this season. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The veteran reliever travelled to see his youngest son, JR, who was born 15 weeks premature on July 6 and remains in a neonatal intensive care unit at a local hospital. He was joined by his partner, Sam, and their other two children.

The 35-year-old has made multiple trips to Utah over the last three weeks, with his first occurring following Toronto’s doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox on July 6. After tossing 1.1 scoreless innings, he hopped on a plane to visit his newborn child for the first time.

Jackson was placed on the paternity list the next day, allowing him to remain with his family over the All-Star break. But it wasn’t a week-long visit, as he had already committed to hosting a youth baseball camp in Carolina.

There was still plenty of story time with JR, though.

Despite the hardship his family has endured thus far, Jackson has continued to make an impact out of the bullpen for Toronto, performing to a dazzling 0.57 ERA across 15.2 innings in 11 games.

The 6-foot-1 righty has been outstanding since returning from triple-A Buffalo earlier this month, tossing 10 scoreless frames, allowing just a pair of hits and walks while striking out 10.

But after Thursday, Toronto will begin a gruelling stretch of 17 games in 17 days, with the team’s next off day scheduled for Aug. 14. The good news, however, is there will be three additional ones before the end of the month.

Jackson intends to fly back to Utah every chance he gets until his son is discharged from the hospital.