Friday, March 30, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #10 Reggie Jackson

My all-time favorite Reggie Jackson quote:

Fans don't boo nobodies.

Love him or hate him, if you were a baseball fan in the 1970's it is hard not have an strong opinion on Reggie. To me he represents all that was great and all that was bad about how the game evolved during the decade.

He was charismatic, confident, and unbelievably talented. He played on some great teams filled with unforgettable characters. He WAS the straw that stirred the drink. During the seven year period from 1972-1978, he was the most significant contributor on five world series winning teams. He sold newspapers and pulled people in the ballpark to watch him play.

Most hard core baseball statisticians believe the concept of clutch is a myth. Almost every study has confirmed that "clutch hitting," in terms of certain players being able to "rise to the occasion" under pressure, is an illusion. You can't argue with a properly constructed statical analysis, but Reggie Jackson's performance during World Series play was absolutely legendary. In 27 career World Series games: he had 35 hits, 10 home runs, 24 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.212. His 3 home run off of 3 different pitcher on 3 straight pitches performance in Game 6 of 1977 World Series sits as one of the greatest moments in the game's history.

I had the opportunity to meet with Reggie about 10 years ago at a small corporate event. He was a hired "spokesman" for a computer memory company and was paid to full rooms of people and build the brand of the company. It was clear that years of fame and adulation had formed a hard outer shell on the man. After everyone left the room, I stuck up a conversation. Once he realized I was not just a guy looking for his autograph and actually knew something about him and shared his love for the game, he transformed into a much different person. He spent 15 or 20 minutes laughing and testing me on my favorite players and I got to witness first hand the charisma that made him one of the most famous athletes in history. When he had to leave, he reached into his bag, took out a pen and signed a brand new baseball.


MilwaukeeMauler said...

Thats a great post. I read Reggie's book from 1975 where he gave a "diary" type account of hit '74 season. At times I got he was pretty much into himself big time. Then, sometimes he'd open up a little more to let you know he was human and cared. As a Yankee by the time I was into baseball full on he was hard to take. Then I read the Bronx Zoo and another one about Billy Martin I sensed he really did think he was the "straw the stirs the drink". But that was cool how he reacted to you at the end of the meeting. It shows me he can turn that on and off when he wants. Its good that he can be "a fan" too.

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