Early years[ edit ] Jackson was born in the Wyncote neighborhood of Cheltenham Township , just north of Philadelphia , Pennsylvania. His father Martinez Jackson , who was half Puerto Rican ,  worked as a tailor and who was a former second baseman with the Newark Eagles of Negro league baseball. He also had two half-siblings from his father's first marriage. Jackson graduated from Cheltenham High School in , where he excelled in football , basketball , baseball, and track and field.
He was told by the doctors he was never to play football again, but Jackson returned for the final game of the season. Doctors told Jackson that he might never walk again, let alone play football, but Jackson defied the odds again.
Oklahoma had black football players before , including Prentice Gautt , a star running back recruited in , who played in the NFL. After a recruiting trip, Kush decided that Jackson had the ability and willingness to work to join the squad. Winkles said he would give Jackson a look, and the next day while still in his football gear, he hit a home run on the second pitch he saw; in five at bats he hit three home runs.
He broke the team record for most home runs in a single season, led the team in numerous other categories and was first team All-American. Complaining of a headache, he left the game in the ninth inning, was admitted to St.
Joseph's Hospital in Lewiston, and remained overnight for observation. He began with the Birmingham A's in the Double-A Southern League in Birmingham, Alabama , where Jackson got his first taste of racism , being one of only a few blacks on the team. The Athletics moved west to Oakland prior to the season. Jackson hit 47 home runs in , and was briefly ahead of the pace that Roger Maris set when he broke the single-season record for home runs with 61 in , and that of Babe Ruth when he set the previous record of 60 in Finley threatened to send Jackson to the minors.
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn successfully intervened in their dispute, but Jackson's numbers in dropped sharply, as he hit just 23 home runs while batting. The Athletics sent him to play in Puerto Rico , where he played for the Santurce team and hit 20 homers and knocked in 47 runs to lead the league in both departments.
Batting for the American League against Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis , the ball he hit soared above the right-field stands, striking the transformer of a light standard on the right field roof. While with the Angels in , he hit a home run over that roof. In , the Athletics won the American League's West division, their first title of any kind since , when they played in Philadelphia.
The A's won the division again in ; their series with the Tigers went the full five games, and Jackson scored the tying run in the clincher on a steal of home. In the process, however, he tore a hamstring and was unable to play in the World Series. The A's still managed to defeat the Cincinnati Reds in seven games.
It was the first championship won by a San Francisco Bay Area team in any major league sport. During spring training in , Jackson showed up with a mustache. Though his teammates wanted him to shave it off, Jackson refused. Jackson helped the Athletics win the pennant again in , and was named Most Valuable Player of the American League for the season. This time, Jackson was not only able to play, but his performance led to his being awarded the Series' Most Valuable Player award.
In the third inning of that seventh game, which ended in a 5—2 score, the A's jumped out to a 4—0 lead as both Bert Campaneris and Jackson hit two-run home runs off Jon Matlack —the only two home runs Oakland hit the entire Series.
Besides hitting home runs in nine years with the Athletics, Jackson was also no stranger to controversy or conflict in Oakland. Sports author Dick Crouser wrote, "When the late Al Helfer was broadcasting the Oakland A's games, he was not too enthusiastic about Reggie Jackson's speed or his hustle.
Once, with Jackson on third, teammate Rick Monday hit a long home run. Crouser also noted that, "Nobody seems to be neutral on Reggie Jackson. You're either a fan or a detractor. Jackson injured his shoulder, and catcher Ray Fosse , attempting to separate the combatants, suffered a crushed disk in his neck, costing him three months on the disabled list.
In October, the A's went on to win a third consecutive World Series. Baltimore Orioles [ edit ] With the coming of free agency after the season, and with Oakland owner Finley unwilling to pay the higher salary that Jackson would ask for, he was traded on April 2 in a six-player deal just prior to the start of the season. The Yankees won the pennant in but were swept in the World Series. Noting that Hank Aaron , at the time the holder of the career record for the most home runs, had just retired, Jackson asked for and received number 44 as a tribute to Aaron.
Jackson wore number 20 for one game during spring training as a tribute to the also recently retired Frank Robinson , then he switched to number Jackson's first season with the Yankees in was a difficult one.
Although team owner George Steinbrenner and several players, most notably catcher and team captain Thurman Munson and outfielder Lou Piniella , were excited about his arrival, the team's field manager Billy Martin was not. Martin had managed the Tigers in , when Jackson's A's beat them in the playoffs. Jackson was once quoted as saying of Martin, "I hate him, but if I played for him, I'd probably love him.
During spring training at the Yankees' camp in Fort Lauderdale , Jackson and Ward were having drinks at a nearby bar. Jackson's version of the story is that he noted that the Yankees had won the pennant the year before, but lost the World Series to the Reds , and suggested that they needed one thing more to win it all, and pointed out the various ingredients in his drink.
Ward suggested that Jackson might be "the straw that stirs the drink. I'm the straw that stirs the drink. Maybe I should say me and Munson, but he can only stir it bad. Jackson has consistently denied saying anything negative about Munson in the interview and he has said that his quotes were taken out of context. Not Munson, not nobody else on this club. On June 18, in a 10—4 loss to the Boston Red Sox in a nationally televised game at Fenway Park in Boston, Jim Rice , a powerful hitter but notoriously slow runner, hit a ball into shallow right field that Jackson appeared to weakly attempt to field.
Jackson failed to reach the ball which fell far in front of him, thereby allowing Rice to reach second base. Furious, Martin removed Jackson from the game without even waiting for the end of the inning, sending Paul Blair out to replace him.
When Jackson arrived at the dugout, Martin yelled that Jackson had shown him up. They argued, and Jackson said that Martin's heavy drinking had impaired his judgment. Despite Jackson being 18 years younger, about two inches taller and maybe 40 pounds heavier, Martin lunged at him, and had to be restrained by coaches Yogi Berra and Elston Howard. Red Sox fans could see this in the dugout and began cheering wildly, and the NBC TV cameras showed the confrontation to the entire country. Yankees management defused the situation by the next day, but the relationship between Jackson and Martin was permanently poisoned.
However, George Steinbrenner made a crucial intervention when he gave Martin the option of either having Jackson bat in the fourth or "cleanup" spot for the rest of the season, or losing his job. Martin made the change and Jackson's hitting improved he had 13 home runs and 49 RBIs over his next 50 games , and the team went on a winning streak.
The Yankees won the division by two and a half games over the Red Sox and Orioles, and came from behind in the top of the ninth inning in the fifth and final game of the American League Championship Series to beat the Kansas City Royals for the pennant.
October[ edit ] During the World Series against the Dodgers , Munson was interviewed, and suggested that Jackson, because of his past post-season performances, might be the better interview subject. In Oakland, he had been known as "Jax" and "Buck. Jackson's crowning achievement came with his three-home-run performance in World Series-clinching Game Six, each on the first pitch, off three Dodgers pitchers.
His first plate-appearance, during the second 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. With the fans chanting his name, "Reg-GIE! It was a towering drive into the black-painted batter's eye seats in center, feet away. Jackson stated afterwards that the scouting reports provided by Gene Michael and Birdie Tebbetts played a large role in his success.
In 27 World Series games, he amassed 10 home runs , including a record five during the Series the last three on first pitches , 24 RBI and a. Babe Ruth accomplishing the feat twice — in and 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 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. 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.
The Yankees' home opener of the season, on April 13 against the Chicago White Sox , featured a new product, the "Reggie! 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. 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 violation of campaign-finance laws: One's a born liar, the other's convicted. 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 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.
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, win for the Yankees.