Reggie Jackson

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Reggie Jackson : biography

May 18, 1946 –

Jackson’s crowning achievement came with his three-home-run performance in World Series-clinching Game Six, each on the first pitch, off three different Dodger pitchers. (His first plate-appearance, during the 2nd inning, resulted in a four-pitch walk.) The first came off starter Burt Hooton, and was a line drive shot into the lower right field seats at Yankee Stadium. The second was a much faster line drive off reliever Elías Sosa into roughly the same area. With the fans chanting his name, "Reg-GIE! Reg-GIE! Reg-GIE!" the third came off reliever Charlie Hough, a knuckleball pitcher, making the distance of this home run particularly remarkable. It was a towering drive into the black-painted batter’s eye seats in center, 475 feet away.

Since Jackson had hit a home run off Dodger pitcher Don Sutton in his last at bat in Game Five, his three home runs in Game Six meant that he had hit four home runs on four consecutive swings of the bat against four different Dodger pitchers. Jackson became the first player to win the World Series MVP award for two different teams. In 27 World Series games, he amassed ten home runs, including a record five during the 1977 Series (the last three on first pitches), 24 RBI and a .357 batting average. Babe Ruth, Albert Pujols, and Pablo Sandoval are the only other players to hit three home runs in a single World Series game. Babe Ruth accomplishing the feat twice – in 1926 and 1928 (both in Game Four). With 25 total bases, Jackson also broke Ruth’s record of 22 in the latter Series; this remains a World Series record, Willie Stargell tying it in the 1979 World Series. In 2009, Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies tied Jackson’s record for most home runs in a single World Series.

An often forgotten aspect of the ending of this decisive Game 6 was the way Jackson left the field at the game’s end. Ironically, despite everything Jackson had done for the Yankees that night, the uncontrollable behavior of Yankee Stadium fans left him feeling understandably worried for his safety. Fans had been getting somewhat rowdy in anticipation of the game’s end, and some had actually thrown firecrackers out near Jackson’s area in right field. Jackson was alarmed enough about this to walk off the field, in order to get a helmet from the Yankee bench to protect himself. Shortly after this point, as the end of the game neared, fans were actually bold enough to climb over the wall, draping their legs over the side in preparation for the moment when they planned to rush onto the field. When that moment came, after pitcher Mike Torrez caught a pop-up for the game’s final out, Jackson started running at top speed off the field, actually body checking past some of these fans filling the playing field in the manner of a football linebacker.ABC coverage of Game Six, as shown on the YES network.

The Bronx Zoo

The Yankees’ home opener of the 1978 season, on April 13 against the Chicago White Sox, featured a new product, the "Reggie!" bar. In 1976, while playing in Baltimore, Jackson had said, "If I played in New York, they’d name a candy bar after me." The Standard Brands company responded with a circular "bar" of peanuts dipped in caramel and covered in chocolate, a confection which was originally named the "Wayne Bun" as it was made in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The "Reggie!" bars were handed to fans as they walked into Yankee Stadium. Jackson hit a home run, and when he returned to right field the next inning, fans began throwing the Reggie bars on the field in celebration. Jackson told the press that this confused him, thinking that maybe the fans did not like the candy.http://www.kevinbaker.info/a_nyt_tdircb.html The Yankees won the game, 4–2.

But the Yankees could not maintain their success, as manager Billy Martin lost control. On July 23, after suspending Jackson for disobeying a sign during a July 17 game, Martin made a statement about his two main antagonists, referring to comments Jackson had made and team owner George Steinbrenner’s 1972 violation of campaign-finance laws: "They’re made for each other. One’s a born liar, the other’s convicted." It was moments like these that gave the Yankees the nickname "The Bronx Zoo."