Jackson Forbes isn’t shying away from the magnitude of the moment. The Rochester Honkers second-baseman got plunked in Sunday's game against St. Cloud making it 34 games in a row where Forbes has gotten on base.
According to Honkers media relations ace Jordan Lank, the record is 37 games back in 1996. So, Forbes is three away from tying the record.
"Sometimes when I don’t get a hit early on, it’s in the back of my head,” Forbes said. "I try to block it out and find ways to help the team win.”
That’s easier said than done. Forbes is human and the pressure is mounting. But when there’s pressure that means you’re doing something right. Early in the season, the San Jose State product was scratching and clawing to get into the lineup. He was usually slotted in the 9-hole. But things have changed now.
“Honestly, at first, I was just trying to get in the lineup and win a spot,” Forbes said. “We have so many talented guys here. When you’re hitting ninth, no one really expects you to get on base, so when you make things happen, people freak out a little bit."
Forbes is the Honkers’ spark plug. He’s hitting .287 with seven doubles, one home run, 15 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. He’s scored 25 runs and drawn 24 walks. Remarkably, he’s gotten on base in every single game he’s played thanks to a combination of terrific speed, a sharp eye and the way he commands the strike zone. He isn’t afraid to work deep into counts, which leads to some strikeouts and is a big reason he walks so often. Forbes owns a .420 on-base percentage which is one of the best marks on the Honkers.
It’s a product of a lot of time and hard work. Picking up pitches out of the pitcher’s hand and recognizing the spin is really hard, but Forbes makes it look easy. Changeups from right-handers that start right on the outside corner but fall away out of the zone are the toughest to recognize for him. Or the backdoor sliders that start in the opposite batter's box before diving across the corner of the zone.
“Honestly, it just takes time, and I’ve been playing baseball since I was really young,” Forbes said. "As long as you can know the pitches you hit the best, it’s easier.”
Forbes is shining this summer in the Northwoods League, but this is just another step in what he hopes is a long baseball journey. And he’s following in the footsteps of his dad, Kirk, who was also a terrific second baseman and was drafted in the 13th round of the 1979 MLB Draft by the Montreal Expos. Forbes played for two years in the Expos farm system and has been a huge mentor for Jackson.
He wants nothing more than to follow in his dad’s footsteps.
"It does drive me a lot, especially since my dad played professionally,” Forbes said. "Hopefully one day I can do that, too. We’ll just keep pushing.”
New-school baseball has become the rage where hitters are constantly trying to elevate and drive the ball out of the ballpark. Forbes is old-school. He wants to hit the ball on the ground and use his speed to put pressure on the defense to field it cleanly and fire it across the diamond before he can blaze down the line. He isn’t scared to lay down bunts and teams are petrified of it.
But he knows that if he wants to be like his dad and make it to the pro ranks, he’ll need a little bit more power.
“I’m excited to see what I can do in the next year at San Jose State and beyond,” Forbes said. "I’d say I have been making more contact recently, but definitely cut down the strikeouts, put the ball in play, get bigger and stronger so I can hit a few more homers.”
Forbes has lofty goals and the talent to get there. But he’s locked into the here and now, and he’s four games away from breaking the Honkers’ on-base streak.
If and when that moment comes, Forbes will be ready for it.