May 18 – Happy Birthday Reggie Jackson

I remember it was the middle of the work week because I called in sick the next day. The Yankees were playing the Dodgers in the sixth game of the 1977 World Series at Yankee Stadium. It had been a crazy season because of Billy Martin’s intense dislike for Reggie Jackson. Reggie wasn’t an easy guy to warm up to if you didn’t have a microphone in your hand but every manager in baseball would have loved to had him sitting in the middle of their lineup back then. Every manager except Martin that is. The mercurial skipper and outspoken slugger despised each other.

In any event, on that night over thirty years ago, I witnessed one of the greatest World Series performances in the history of the Fall Classic. After walking on four straight pitches in his first at bat Jackson hit the next three pitches he saw that night from three different Dodger hurlers, for home runs. Bam. Bang. Boom. His last shot was the most prodigious, soaring high into the Bronx nighttime sky to straightaway center field onto the famous black tarp that provided the hitter’s background at the old Stadium.

I will never forget Jackson’s glee as he circled the bases after that third blast. How he patted the back of the helmet of on deck hitter Chris Chambliss as he crossed home plate and bounded down into the steps of the Yankee Stadium dugout being congratulated by teammates who both loved and despised him, including Manager Martin.

It was one of the great moments in baseball history, made even more intense by the Martin – Jackson feud and the fact that the always over-dramatic Howard Cosell was in the TV booth. After that game was over I could not go to sleep. It had been sixteen years since the Yankees won their last World Series and for a time there in the late sixties I didn’t think I’d ever see them win another one. But loud brash number 44 took care of all that with three swings of the bat. Reggie, who was born in Wyncote, PA, turns 67 years old today. Nicknamed Mr. October for his ability to dominate games in the postseason (Jackson played in five World Series during his career,) Reggie ironically shares his birthday with a catcher who literally seemed to disappear when his Yankee teams played in World Series.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1977 NYY 146 606 525 93 150 39 2 32 110 17 74 129 .286 .375 .550 .925
1978 NYY 139 581 511 82 140 13 5 27 97 14 58 133 .274 .356 .477 .834
1979 NYY 131 537 465 78 138 24 2 29 89 9 65 107 .297 .382 .544 .926
1980 NYY 143 601 514 94 154 22 4 41 111 1 83 122 .300 .398 .597 .995
1981 NYY 94 382 334 33 79 17 1 15 54 0 46 82 .237 .330 .428 .758
21 Yrs 2820 11418 9864 1551 2584 463 49 563 1702 228 1375 2597 .262 .356 .490 .846
OAK (10 yrs) 1346 5432 4686 756 1228 234 27 269 776 145 633 1226 .262 .355 .496 .851
CAL (5 yrs) 687 2721 2331 331 557 87 6 123 374 14 362 690 .239 .343 .440 .782
NYY (5 yrs) 653 2707 2349 380 661 115 14 144 461 41 326 573 .281 .371 .526 .897
BAL (1 yr) 134 558 498 84 138 27 2 27 91 28 54 108 .277 .351 .502 .853
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/18/2013.

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