By Devon Mason| Contributor
Reggie Jackson aka Mr. October was Dynamic, Controversial and Amazing
Reggie Jackson ranks as one of the most dynamic players to ever walk onto a baseball diamond. Called “Mr. October” because of his clutch hits in the postseason for the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees, Jackson proved he deserved his Hall of Fame selection in 1993 after 21 seasons in the big leagues.
Action Jackson played for the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees, and California Angels between 1967 and 1987. His most famous moment, which elevated him to iconic status in the annals of New York’s illustrious sports history, was a performance for the ages in the 1977 World Series.
Jackson was born on May 18, 1946 in Wyncote, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. His father was a World War II veteran and small business owner, running a dry cleaning and tailoring business. Despite Jackson’s multi-sport prowess, his father insisted that his son get a college degree.
Reggie attended Arizona State on a football scholarship, but that itch for baseball never went away.
Possessing tremendous power at the plate, he hit three home runs during five at-bats in his walk-on tryout at ASU.
That’s when it became 100 percent “Go-Time” with baseball.
Jackson spent the summer between his freshman and sophomore years working on his baseball skills and in his sophomore year he completely dedicated himself to diamond mining.
Success immediately followed, as Jackson set the school’s single-season home run record in 1966 and was named an All American.
The Athletics, then based in Kansas City, drafted him in June 1966.
Jackson spent his years with the Athletics, Orioles, Yankees and Angels. All four franchises were winners while he played for them.
The A’s moved to Oakland in 1968, Jackson had been called up earlier that summer, and that’s when both Reggie and the Athletics began to take off.
In 1969, Jackson hit 49 home runs and was on pace to break Roger Maris’ home run record. The A’s won the World Series three straight seasons (1972-74). Jackson was named World Series MVP in 1973. He was also considered controversial and known for being flamboyant, confident and outspoken.
When a teammate was asked if Jackson was a “hot dog” – a showoff – on the field, the reply was, “There isn’t enough mustard in the world to cover that dog.”
Reggie understood the value of star power and charisma and the Muhumad Ali style of ego jousting that captivated fans and media long before it was popular.
During his years in the “Bronx” with the Yankees, they won the 1977 and 1978 World Series. He was named MVP of the 1977 Fall Classic. His time in New York was marred by a tumultuous relationship with alcoholic manager Billy Martin who eventually quit his job in 1978, saying Jackson and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner “were made for each other.”
As a member of the Angels, they did not make the World Series but did win the AL West division title in 1982 and 1986, the first and last year of Jackson’s tenure with the team. He signed a contract with the Athletics in 1987, retiring at season’s end.
He finished his Hall of Fame career with 563 home runs, 11 playoff appearances, six league pennant wins, five World Series Championships, and 14 MLB All-Star selections.
Reggie has many memorable moments but these three stand out:
1. His three home run game in the 1977 World Series, it happened in Game 6 versus the Los Angeles Dodgers and is the “stuff of legendary proportions.” That game was the series and championship clincher for the “Bronx Bombers.” Every blast was on the first pitch of his at-bat. On the third one, commentator Howard Cosell said.
2. What a colossal blow!” Fearful of fans who had thrown firecrackers onto the field, Jackson donned a batting helmet to wear at his position in rightfield and sprinted to the dugout after the final out, in the process, knocking a few fans out of the way.
3. At the team’s 1978 home opener, the Yankees allowed Standard Bar to debut a new candy bar with his namesake attached to it. The “Reggie Bar”, was circular and it contained peanuts and was covered with caramel and chocolate. Jackson went yard in this game, and fans celebrated by throwing the candy bars on the field. Jackson misunderstood, thinking the fans didn’t like the candy bar. There was also a memorable commercial made for the product.
Of course, there were many other moments, such as Jackson hitting the go-ahead home run that gave the Yanks the lead and eventual win, in the 1978 playoff game against the arch-rival Boston Red Sox.
Jackson was a dynamic, controversial and amazing player that you couldn’t stop watching. He understood the value of theatre and never wilted in the big moment. He was uncanny in the way he seemed to perform his best when the stakes are high.
He’s the definition of a Hall of Famer, representing those transcending MLBbro personalities missing in today’s game to a large degree.
A captivating Black Knight who everybody wanted to be like. His three home runs in one World Series game would alone make him a legend. And for two decades he proved to be a winner no matter where he played.