Results tagged ‘ 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.
|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|
They called today’s birthday celebrant “Silent John” because he never argued with umpires. Back during the first two decades of the twentieth century, when Hummel became one of baseball’s best known utility players for the old Brooklyn Superbas, not arguing with the umps was almost equivalent to playing the game without your uniform on. The flexible Hummel played a lot of first base, second, shortstop and outfield for Brooklyn, during his 11 seasons with that team. The Superbas released Hummel after the 1915 season and he spent the next two years playing minor league ball. During the 1918 season, an injury bug and WWI forced the Yankees and their first-year Manager, Miller Huggins, to raid the minor leagues for talent. They found Hummel and put him in Yankee pinstripes. He appeared in just 22 games that year, which turned out to be the final 22 games of his big league career. He is the only Yankee to be born on April 4 but he is not the only Yankee to have been born in The Keystone State. Here is my list of the top five Yankees to be born in Pennsylvania:
There are also a bunch of good players named “John” on the all-time Yankee roster. My top five list of Pinstripe John’s would include: Johnny Damon, John Wetteland, Johnny Blanchard, Johnny Lindell and of course, two-time Yankee 20-game-winner, Tommy John. There was also the only Yankee player named “John” to make it into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. That would be the Big Cat, Johnny Mize.
There were two reasons why I did not like the 1976 early-season trade that made Fran Healy, Thurman Munson’s backup. First of all, that Yankee team already had the young Rick Dempsey as a reserve catcher and I liked him a lot. The second reason was because New York gave up their promising left-handed starter, Larry Gura. Gura impressed me when he went 5-1 as a starter during his first season in Pinstripes in 1974, with two of those victories being complete game shutouts. Though he had not been as good the following year, I thought he was still one of New York’s best pitchers and I hated to see him dealt.
In Healy, the Yankees got an OK receiver to spell their snarly team Captain once a week, a job that Dempsey could have handled much better. It wasn’t until 1977 that the intangible value of the Healy acquisition paid huge dividends for New York. That was the year the Yankees decided to put the flamboyant and pretty self-centered superstar, Reggie Jackson, in the same dugout as the mercurial, alcoholic Billy Martin. For some reason, Jackson decided to befriend Healy and actually take his advice from time-to-time. On more than one occasion, Healy was able to talk Reggie out of doing something that would further provoke Martin or hurt New York’s chance of winning. Fran was born on September 6, 1946, in Holyoke, MA.
As for Gura, he became the very good Major League starting pitcher I knew he would. Dempsey would go onto become an Oriole defensive mainstay behind the plate for many seasons. As for Healy, once the Yankees fired Martin in 1978, there was little left for the catcher/diplomat to do in the Yankee clubhouse so he switched careers and moved to the broadcasting booth. From there, Healy evolved into a sports celebrity interviewer. New York sports fans know him for his popular “Halls of Fame” interview show in which he interviews members of the Halls of Fame from each major sport.