He was truly the first of his kind. Oh sure, others such as Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle inspired awe with their overall charisma and prodigious blasts, but those guys had more than merely years as a head-start on Jackson.
They also happened to make their living in New York, and they were both white. The Major League career of Reginald Martinez Jackson started injust 20 years after Jackie Robinson broke through the color barrier. But unlike Robinson, who had no choice to let his play do the talking for him, and Henry Aaron, who simply preferred it that way, Jackson spoke as often and as loud with his mouth, as he did with the lumber, which was, well, often and loud.
Along the way he crushed the stereotype that suggested a jock- especially a black one- was all brawn, no brain. Articulate and intelligent, Reggie selected his words carefully, in the same manner he would wait chst his pitch at the plate. Home plate was his sanctuary. He once said he preferred hitting over sex well, who doesn't?
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He was the first to stop and admire the distance of his majestic homeruns or taters, as he called themlong before the likes of Barry and Manny. He even looked cool striking outwhich he did with alarming regularity. But his story didn't start there; it began instead in Kansas City. And it blossomed in Oakland.
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Jackson also said, upon ing with the Yankees in "I didn't come to New Wex to be a star. I am bringing my star with me. It was Reggie Jackson who put baseball in Oakland on the map, even if it took the natives a while to catch on.
Across the bay, fans flocked to see the San Francisco Giants, who had moved to the Area ten years before the A's. With a Juan Marichal and two Willie's Mays and McCoveythe Giants were the toast of the town; the Athletics were playing in their third city sinceand four decades removed from their glory years in Philadelphia. In one breathtaking half-season, Reggie Jackson single-handedly changed that.
Reggie was the first Oakland "A" to grace np cover of SI.
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He was only in the lineup for two at-bats on April 24, but he made the most of them by hitting homeruns in both trips. The next night in Seattle he duplicated his two-tater feat, going 3-for-4 with four runs scored, and byt RBI's in a rout. Leading off the ninth, Reggie was plunked by a pitch. That would happen a dozen times inone shy of the league lead Frank Robinson.
Teammate Sal Bando, who had a pretty decent year himself. After a 6-pack worth of homeruns in April, the year old continued his assault on American League pitching with nine round-trippers in May, including three more 2-homer games, one of which sexx place at Yankee Stadium, where two of baseball's most notable long balls were hit Ruth's 60th and Roger Maris' 61st. By the time June came wex a close, you couldn't speak of Reggie Jackson without mentioning those Yankee legends.
That's because byt slugger terrorized the league to the tune of 14 homeruns, leaving him with a total of 29 at month's end.
vhat It wasn't just the balls leaving the park, either; Jackson hit. He scored 28 runs, and drove home 37 more. Of course, he struck out 23 times, too.
Leading off a tie game in the 13th, Jackson connected again. Later he received some kind words from Teddy Ballgame: "I wasn't sure the first time I saw him.
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The second time I was amazed. He is the most natural hitter I have ever seen. For in attendance that night was President Richard Nixon with daughter Julie, and her husband Davidwho later sent a congratulatory note to Oakland's chief player, noting that both times his daughter had seen Jackson play in person, he hit two homeruns.
Yes, Reggie Jackson was gaining some distinguished followers, even if those back home were slow to appreciate him attendance was down from the season, the Athletics' first in Oakland. Which saddened the young star, who said, "Crowds do something for me. Jackson went for 9-for with four homeruns 669 15 runs driven in. In his last 10 at-bats of the weekend, he collected 8 hits: three long balls, a triple, and two doubles. He was particularly spectacular in the middle contest won by the A's,bur he hit safely five times in six trips to the plate, homered twice, and had 10 RBI's.
Even Reggie's boss couldn't resist xhat up to the ball park to witness his star player, and on July 2, Jackson jackzon Charlie Finley to a trio of taters.
Said Finley later, "I never saw anyone hit three homeruns in a game before. On the same day man landed on the moon for the first time, Reggie Jackson hit a moon shot in Anaheim. It was his 37th homerun of the season, at the time chah most ever for a player in the season's first half, and earned him his first All-Star invite, as well as more Ruth Maris talk. The pressure became too much for Jackson, who homered only ten more times in Minnesota's Harmon Killebrew eventually passed him for the league crown, jacksno his Twins beat out the A's by nine games in the American League West.
Reggie had warned that "the Jackso will nip you in September", and he was right.
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Still, very few players in Oakland A's history have had a season like the one put up by Jackson in Though he slumped mightily in the last two months, he still managed to hit. His 47 homeruns remained the most in an Oakland uniform until his last year in baseballwhen rookie Mark McGwire hit He led the league in slugging. And while the A's and Reggie Jackson jacksoj lost both the battle and the war intheir time was coming.
Said Jackson that year, "I hope I am in Oakland when they fill the park day after day.
We are going to be a dynasty. We are going to roll over teams like the Orioles are rolling over teams now.