Reggie Jackson

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Reggie Jackson : biography

May 18, 1946 –

Martin resigned the next day (some sources have said he was actually firedhttp://www.iancfriedman.com/?p=1561), and was replaced by Bob Lemon, a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Cleveland Indians who had been recently fired as manager of the White Sox. Steinbrenner, a Cleveland-area native, had hired former Indians star Al Rosen as his team president (replacing another Cleveland figure, Gabe Paul). Steinbrenner jumped at the chance to involve another hero of his youth with the Yankees; Lemon had been one of Steinbrenner’s coaches during the Bombers’ pennant-winning 1976 season.

After being 14 games behind the first-place Red Sox on July 18, the Yankees finished the season in a tie for first place. The two teams played a one-game playoff for the division title at Fenway Park, with the Yankees winning 5–4. Although the home run by light-hitting shortstop Bucky Dent in the seventh inning got the most notice, it was an eighth-inning home run by Jackson that gave the Yankees the fifth run they ended up needing. The next day, with the American League Championship Series with the Royals beginning, Jackson hit a home run off the Royals’ top reliever at the time, Al Hrabosky, the flamboyant "Mad Hungarian." The Yankees won the pennant in four games, their third straight.

Jackson was once again in the center of events in the World Series, again against the Dodgers. Los Angeles won the first two games at Dodger Stadium, taking the second when rookie reliever Bob Welch struck Jackson out with two men on base with two outs in the ninth inning. The series then moved to New York, and after the Yankees won Game Three on several fine defensive plays by third baseman Graig Nettles, Game Four saw Jackson in the middle of a controversial play on the basepaths. In the sixth inning, after collecting an RBI single, Jackson was struck in the hip–possibly on purpose–by a ball thrown by Dodger shortstop Bill Russell as Jackson was being forced at second base. Instead of completing a double play that would have ended the inning, the ball caromed into foul territory and allowed Thurman Munson to score the Yankees’ second run of the inning. In spite of the Dodgers’ protests of interference on Jackson’s part, the umpires allowed the play to stand. The Yankees tied the game in the eighth inning and eventually won in the tenth.

Following a blowout win in Game Five, both teams headed back to Los Angeles. In Game Six, Jackson got his revenge against Welch by blasting a two-run home run in the seventh inning, putting the finishing touch on a series-clinching, 7-2 win for the Yankees.

1980–1981 seasons

In 1980, Jackson batted .300 for the only time in his career, and his 41 home runs tied with Ben Oglivie of the Milwaukee Brewers for the American League lead. However, the Yankees were swept in the ALCS by the Kansas City Royals.

As he entered the last year of his Yankee contract in 1981, Jackson endured several difficulties from George Steinbrenner. After the owner consulted Jackson about signing then-free agent Dave Winfield, Jackson expected Steinbrenner to work out a new contract for him as well. Steinbrenner never did (some say never intending to) and Jackson played the season as a free agent. Jackson started slowly with the bat, and, when the 1981 Major League Baseball strike began, Steinbrenner invoked a clause in Jackson’s contract forcing him to take a complete physical examination. Jackson was outraged and blasted Steinbrenner in the media. When the season resumed, Jackson’s hitting improved, partly to show Steinbrenner he wasn’t finished as a player. He hit a long home run into the upper deck in Game Five of the strike-forced 1981 American League Division Series with the Brewers, and the Yankees went on to win the pennant again. However, Jackson injured himself running the bases in Game Two of the 1981 ALCS and missed the first two games of the World Series, both of which the Yankees won.

Jackson was medically cleared to play Game Three, but manager Bob Lemon refused to start him or even play him, allegedly acting under orders from Steinbrenner. The Yankees lost that game and Jackson played the remainder of the series, hitting a home run in Game Four. However, they lost the last three games and the Series to the Dodgers.