Reggie Jackson


Reggie Jackson : biography

May 18, 1946 –

Reggie Jackson during the [[2009 World Series victory parade.]]The Yankees dedicated a plaque in his honor on July 6, 2002, which now hangs in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. The plaque calls him "One of the most colorful and exciting players of his era" and "a prolific hitter who thrived in pressure situations." Each Yankee so honored and still living was on hand for the dedication: Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Don Mattingly. Ron Guidry, a teammate of Jackson’s for all five of his seasons with the Yankees, was there, and would be honored with a Monument Park plaque the next season. Out of respect to some of the players who Jackson admired while growing up, Jackson invited Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks to attend the ceremony, and each did so. Like Jackson, each was a member of the Hall of Fame and had hit over 500 career home runs. Each had also played in the Negro Leagues.

Jackson expanded his love of antique cars into a chain of auto dealerships in California, and used his contacts to become one of the foremost traders of sports memorabilia. He has also been the public face of a group attempting to purchase a major league team, already having made unsuccessful attempts to buy the Athletics and the Angels. His attempt to acquire the Angels along with Jimmy Nederlander (minority owner of the New York Yankees), Jackie Autry (widow of former Angels owner Gene Autry) and other luminaries was thwarted by Mexican American billionaire Arturo Moreno who outbid Jackson’s group by nearly $50 million for the team in the winter of 2002.

In a July edition of Sports Illustrated, Jackson talked about several issues, and also was critical of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America as he believes they have lowered their standards when voting for prospects in the Hall of Fame. He has also been critical of players associated with performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), including distant cousin Barry Bonds, stating "I believe that Hank Aaron is the home run king, not Barry Bonds, as great of a player Bonds was." Of Alex Rodriguez, whom Jackson has worked alongside as special assistant to the Yankees, Jackson remarked, "Al’s a very good friend. But I think there are real questions about his numbers. As much as I like him, what he admitted about his usage does cloud some of his numbers." On July 12, the Yankees released a statement from Jackson after the Sports Illustrated interview had been released. The press release included Jackson saying, "In trying to convey my feelings about a few issues that I am passionate about, I made the mistake of naming some specific players." It had been reported he had been told by the Yankees to steer clear from the team, although general manager Brian Cashman stated he had not been banned but only told to not join the club on a road trip to Boston and would later be free to interact with the club. After the SI article became known and Jackson’s status with the Yankees being talked about, Jackson confirmed in his statement "I continue to have a strong relationship with the club, and look forward to continuing my role with the team."

In 2007, ESPN aired a mini-series called The Bronx is Burning, about the 1977 Yankees, with the conflicts and controversies around Jackson a central part of the storyline. Jackson is portrayed by Daniel Sunjata. In 2008, he threw out the first pitch at Yankees Opening Day, the last one at Yankee Stadium. He also threw out the first pitch at the first game at the new Yankee Stadium (an exhibition game).

On October 9, 2009, Reggie Jackson threw the opening pitch for Game 2 of the ALDS between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins.

Youth and early career

Early life

Reggie Jackson was born in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, just north of Philadelphia. His father was Martinez Jackson, a half Puerto Rican who worked as a tailor and who was also a former second baseman with the Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues. He was the youngest of four children from Reggie’s mother, Clara, who was of Hispanic ( Puerto Rican) descent. He also had two half siblings from his father’s first marriage. His parents divorced when he was four; his mother taking four of his siblings with her, while his father was left with Jackson, and one of the siblings from his first marriage, though one sibling later returned to Wyncote. His father raised his son as a single parent, and was one of the few black families in Wyncote. He was able to develop a social ease with the Jewish community in Wyncote, as all his friends, girlfriends, coaches, and teachers during that timeframe were Jewish. (in 1972, Jackson joined his Jewish teammates on the A’s, Ken Holtzman and Mike Epstein, in wearing black armbands for the rest of the postseason after the Munich Massacre). At Wyncote he was also classmates with Yonatan Netanyahu, who later led the Israeli raid on Entebbe in 1976.