American Pop 33

AMERICANPOP33: Mr October REGGIE JACKSON Birth of the Legend

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         4th INNING                                  5th INNING                                       8th INNING 

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On the night of October 18th 1977, the atmosphere in Yankee Stadium (aka the ‘House that Ruth Built’), was inundated with the ambience of an electrfified buzz. The emotional resonance was as existential, as the excitement was palpable. The fans were frienzied, and there wasn’t a muted soul among the over 56,000 in attendance that night. Each one of them happily making contributions to the cache of home field advantage. Indeed, the energy that the crowd emitted was powerful and omnipresent. Imbued with hopeful thoughts and existential magic. It was a mystic energy that seemed to permeate every crevice within the stadiums aged concrete, and every blade of technicolor green outfield grass. A tangibly true experience, even if it exists in defiance of the laws of physics. Nevertheless, the load bearing support beams underneath major league baseball’s biggest stage, were weighted but held steadfast.

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By the end of the national anthem, the stage for Game 6 of the 74th World Series competition was set, with millions of fans around the world ready to witness what would become more than a game. They would also witness the birth of a legend

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The previous season (1976) the Yankees had won the American League Pennant in dramatic fashion, by defeating the Kansas City Royals with a walk-off home run by  1st baseman Chris Chambliss … in the bottom of the 9th inning. A feat which instigated untold thousands of jubilant Yankee fans to rush onto the playing field, which resulted in Chris Chambliss having to run/barrel over a few fans as he attempted to get into the Yankee dugout as pandemonium ensued. Indeed, in New York City fans were over the moon with joy and excitement. The party was on … but only for a minute, as the celebration proved to be short-lived. The Yankees would eventually be swept off the diamond in four games in the 1976 World Series by the most dominant baseball team of the 1970’s, the Cincinnati Reds.

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With the back story of the Bronx Bombers ‘close but no cigar’ 1976 season, providing contextual gravity for 1977, and their assumed post season run. Yankee owner George Steinbrenner who espoused an ethos that required winning above all else, took action. To wit, following the 1976 season he went ahead and acquired the best free agent on the market, former Oakland A’s all-star slugger Reggie Jackson. The details of the Jackson signing included a contract which was at the time, the most lucrative in baseball history. For this reason and those aforementioned, the weight of expectation for a championship was momentous. By the time the calendar read October 18th 1977, the Yankees had traversed the expanse of the 162 game regular season. Successfully negotiated the acquisition of the American Pennant. Had secured three of the four wins needed to accomplish their goal of a championship in the bag. The New York Yankees were one win away. 

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Needless to say, the importance of Game 6 of the 1977 World Series was anything but benign.The talented and often mercurial Yankee manager Billy Martin had his team primed and ready to take on their former cross-town, turned cross-country rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers. A team who also had a colorful and outspoken manager in Tommy LaSorda. As history tells it, Reggie Jackson would prove his worth in a way that inspires myth and creates legend. Indeed, as if he were answering a call to film the scene in the movie when the hero performs his/her heroism, Reginald Martinez Jackson .answered. In doing so, he not only made baseball history, but also poured quick drying cement into the foundation of his legacy. 

DID YOU KNOW?  It was Yankee catcher, the late Thurman Munson, who coined the phrase ‘Mr. October’ during the 1977 World Series. Following  a 12 inning Game 1 victory, a visibly tired but always good-natured Munson needed a ploy to get out of answering questions, so he cleverly told reporters and media who had surrounded his locker to “go ask Mr. October” … the rest as the saying goes, is history. Thurman Munson pictured below (R) with Jackson.  

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As the Story Goes 

Jackson, who had been red-hot the entire series leading into Game 6, put on an impressive show of power during pre-game batting practice earlier that afternoon. Loud cracks of his bat turned heads and stopped people dead in their tracks, as Jackson consistently blasted one baseball after another over the padded walls and  into the bleachers above center and right field. Was this a sign, or the manifestation of a good omen? Maybe. Perhaps it was purely coincidental. Nevertheless, it stands as a matter of fact. Jackson would later say said he felt great the night before, and the day of the game. Apparently. What is certain is that throughout his career, Jackson flourished when the lights shone brightest, and his instinctual flair for the dramatic grandeur of the sporting stage  … were exceptional. This was evidenced by the legendary 3 consecutive home run performance he turned in during the 74th World Series. A performance which, in addition to being one of the greatest in a single World Series game, also provided unwavering punctuation to the New York Yankee’s final win of the 1977 baseball season … a World Series win. Sweeter still, for the Yankees and their fans it was also their first World Series Championship in 15 years (1962)

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Game Six 1977  World Series ThreeHome Runs  OneNight in October

With the Yankees trailing 2- 0 early in the 2nd inning, Jackson drew a walk on four straight pitches from Dodgers pitcher Burt Hooten, who chose to pitch around him, opting to face Chris Chambliss instead. This turned out to be a mistake, as Chambliss subsequently homered to tie the score 2 -2. In the 4th inning, following a Thurman Munson single, Reggie Jackson returned to the plate. The Yankees were down 3 – 2 and Burt Hooten was still on the mound. Jackson swung at the first pitch he saw and launched it, depositing a home run souvenir ball over the right field wall and into the  porch. This gave the Yankees the lead for the first time in the game. They never trailed again after that. In the 5th inning Jackson stepped up to the plate again, this time against Dodger pitcher Elias Sosa, with Willie Randolph on 1st base the Yankees leading 4 -3. Again Jackson swung at the first pitch, and again he blasted it, this time over the right centerfield wall. The fans went berserk and Yankee stadium literally shook from the bleachers on down. Then in the 8th inning with the Yankees still leading, feeling good and playing better, Jackson was the lead off hitter, this time he was facing Dodgers pitcher Charlie Hough. Once again, he swung at the first pitch, and once again he absolutely crushed it. This 3rd and final home run soared through the October night with an unbelievably high arc, finally landing on the black tarp in the centerfield recesses, nearly 500 feet from where Jackson was standing at home plate. So herculean was Jackson’s blast, that for a brief moment seemed like it might exit Yankee Stadium. It was his 5th home run in the 6 game World Series. 

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1977 WORLD SERIES GAME   REGGIE JACKSON  HOME RUN TIMELINE  

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1ST Pitch Offered by  BURT HOOTEN …  362 feet 

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1ST Pitch Offered by  ELIAS SOSA …  344 feet 

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1ST Pitch Offered by CHARLIE HOUGH …  480 feet 

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GOING …

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GOING … 

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GONE

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3 HOME RUNS.   3 SWINGS.  NEW YORK YANKEES WIN THE 1977 WORLD SERIES. 

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“IT’S MILLER TIME BOYS. WHO’S BUYING?” 

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CURTAIN CALL FOR THE AGES

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Legacy By The Numbers 

At the time Reggie Jackson was only the 2nd player in the history of major league baseball to hit (3) home runs in a single World Series game (Babe Ruth did it twice once in 1926  & once in the 1928). In recognition of his series excellence, Reggie Jackson was awarded both the World Series Most Valuable Player and Babe Ruth Awards. Jackson’s teams made the post season (11) times in his (21) year career. Appearing in (6) World Series, (3) with the New York Yankees and (3) with the Oakland A’s. He returned as the victor in (5) World Series. Missing perfection due to a lone exception (1981 W.S. to Dodgers / Strike Season). It should be noted that 1977 marked Jackson’s 2nd Series MVP. His 1st came with Oakland in 1973. That stated, Reggie Jackson played in 27 career World Series games, hitting (10) home runs and driving in (24) runs. His World Series stat line: .357/.457/.755  is remarkable by any reasonable estimation. When observers add in (1) regular season Most Valuable Player Award (1973), (14) All-Star selections, (2) Silver Slugger Awards, (563) Home Runs, (1702) Runs Batted In, and a .864 OPS, then Reggie Jackson’s 1993 1st Ballot Hall of Fame induction simply becomes a matter of due course.   


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AMERICAN POP    /    BONUS  PHOTO GALLERY 

OLD YANKEE STADIUM       1 E 161st St, Bronx, 10451, NY

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NEW YANKEE STADIUM           1 E 161st St, Bronx, 10451, NY

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OLD  YANKEE STADIUM     

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NEW YANKEE STADIUM    

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REGINALD MARTINEZ JACKSON      1977

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REGGIE JACKSON with THURMAN MUNSON        1978 

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REGGIE JACKSON with DAVE WINFIELD      1981

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REGGIE JACKSON with Yankee Manager BILLY MARTIN in a joyful moment.

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REGGIE JACKSON with RUSSELL ‘BUCKY’  DENT  

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REGGIE JACKSON with  JIM ‘CATFISH’ HUNTER 

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REGGIE JACKSON with  GEORGE ‘THE BOSS’ STEINBRENNER 

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JACKSON & MARTIN’S  ‘LAUGH IN’ 

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REGGIE JACKSON with DERECK ‘THE CAPTAIN’  JETER     1998 

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REGGIE JACKSON with ALEX  ‘A-ROD’ RODRIGUEZ      1999

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REGGIE JACKSON the ‘Toast of the Town’       1978

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REGGIE JACKSON on ‘Signing Day’      1977 

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The ‘REGGIE BAR’ 

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During the 1977 – 1981 era REGGIE JACKSON literally couldn’t hide Anywhere  …  

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1998

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1978

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