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Mr. October

Monday, June 21, 2004
Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie
By Nick Acocella
Special to

Signature Game
Oct. 18, 1977 - Reggie Jackson gave a performance that solidified his place in baseball lore by hitting three home runs on the first pitch from three Dodger pitchers. His feat powered the Yankees to an 8-4 victory in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium and their first World Series triumph in 15 years.

Reggie Jackson
Reggie watches one of his 563 homers sail down the right field line.
In his final at-bat of Game 5, Reggie also had homered. He walked on four pitches in his first plate appearance tonight before becoming the first player to hit three consecutive homers in a Series game. At game's end, he had four homers on his last four swings.

His three homers tonight - off Burt Hooton, Elias Sosa and Charlie Hough - tied Babe Ruth's record and his five homers in the Series set a mark.

"Now I believe him," said winning pitcher Mike Torrez. "Now I know why he calls himself Mr. October."

"Perhaps for one night," Jackson said, "I reached back and achieved that level of the overrated superstar."

Odds 'n' Ends

  • In the 1966 draft the Mets, who had the first pick overall, passed on Jackson, who hit .327 and belted 15 homers for Arizona State as a sophomore, in favor of Steve Chilcott, a high school catcher who never reached the majors.

  • The Mets were concerned about Jackson dating a woman whom they thought was white, but was actually a Puerto Rican.

    Reggie Jackson
    Jackson boasts the number one ranking in slugging percentage in the post season at .755

  • Jackson's bonus from Athletics owner Charley Finley was worth $85,000, including college tuition and a new maroon Pontiac.

  • In a weekend series in Boston in June 1969, Jackson drove in 15 runs in 14 at-bats for Oakland.

  • By July 29 of that year, he had 40 homers to put him 27 games ahead of Ruth's 1927 pace and 14 games ahead of Roger Maris' 1961 pace. But Jackson fizzled in the final two months, hitting just seven more homers, and his 47 left him second behind Harmon Killebrew's 49.

  • In the 1971 All-Star Game, his homer over Tiger Stadium's rightfield roof would have gone completely out of the ballpark if it hadn't hit a light tower. He was on the team only because of an injury to Tony Oliva.

  • Jackson missed the 1972 World Series because he twisted his knee stealing home in Game 5 of the ALCS against Detroit.

  • Jackson's fight with Billy North, in June 1974, was serious enough for Ray Fosse to try to break it up. For his peacemaking effort, the catcher suffered a crushed disc in his neck that sidelined him for the rest of the year.

  • While Oakland was swept by Boston in the 1975 playoffs, Jackson batted .417 with a homer and three RBI in the three games.

  • Jackson felt humiliated when Yankees manager Billy Martin didn't start him in Game 5 of the 1977 ALCS against Kansas City. He got into the contest as a pinch-hitter and stayed in as the designated hitter.

  • In the 1978 playoffs, Jackson batted .462, with a 1.000 slugging average, two homers and six RBI as the Yankees defeated the Royals in four games.

  • Jackson hit .391 with two homers and eight RBI as the Yankees defeated Los Angeles in the 1978 World Series. But in a classic confrontation in Game 2, Bob Welch struck out Jackson with two outs in the ninth to preserve a 4-3 Dodgers victory.

  • On May 31, 1980, he glowered at the third-base coach for apparently giving him the take sign on a 3-0 count, then turned a scowl at manager Dick Howser in the dugout. Just as Jackson expected, the next pitch was down the middle, and he smashed it for a game-winning homer.

  • In one of his rare moments of humility, Jackson said that he would settle for being "half the player Willie Mays is."

  • Jackson hit three homers in a game twice in the regular season - on July 2, 1969 for Oakland and on Sept. 18, 1986 for California.

  • He missed the first two games of the 1981 World Series because of an injury and the third because Howser didn't want him to face tough lefty Fernando Valenzuela in his first contest back.

  • In Game 4, he went 3-for-3 with a homer. He finished the Series with a .333 average (4-for-12).

  • Defensively, Jackson was erratic. While he had a rifle arm, breaking double figures in assists four times and leading the AL in 1968, he topped outfielders in errors five times to tie Burt Shotton's league record.

  • Jackson stole 228 bases in his career, reaching double numbers 10 times, with a high of 28 for Baltimore in 1976. But he was caught stealing 115 times.

  • He struck out 26.3 percent of his at-bats (2,597 in 9,864 at-bats), the second highest percentage in history for players with 4,000 at-bats. Dave Kingman is No. 1 at 27.2 percent.

  • Jackson became the eighth player to have his number retired by two teams: The Yankees retired his No. 44 in 1993 and the A's retired his No. 9 in 2004.

  • Famous for his collection of vintage cars, Jackson suffered a catastrophic loss when a warehouse fire in August 1988 destroyed almost 30 of his vehicles.

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