Born in Pennsylvania in 1946, Reggie Jackson began his big league baseball career in 1967. He won three World Series championships and an MVP Award with the Oakland A's in the early 1970s, and later burnished his reputation as one of the game's premier sluggers with the New York Yankees. After retiring in 1987, Jackson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.
Early Years and Schools
Reginald Martinez Jackson was born on May 18, 1946, in Abington, Pennsylvania, to parents Martinez and Clara Jackson. The youngest of six children, he grew up in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, where his father had a tailor shop on the first floor of the family home.
Remaining with his dad after his parents separated, Jackson developed into an outstanding all-around athlete. He starred as a running back for the Cheltenham High School football team and displayed impressive potential in baseball as a power-hitting first baseman and pitcher. Jackson hit .550 as a senior, despite the distraction of his dad being jailed for bootlegging.
Awarded a football scholarship to Arizona State University, Jackson realized he missed baseball and impressed the coaches during a tryout. Following his sophomore year, in which he batted .327 and set a team record for home runs, Jackson was selected by the Kansas City Athletics with the second pick of the 1966 amateur draft.
Early Baseball Career
After parts of two seasons in the minor leagues, where he played for outposts in Idaho, California and Alabama, Jackson surfaced with the A's in 1967. He emerged as a regular following the club's move to Oakland in 1968, showing big-time power with 29 home runs as well as an ability to compile a staggering number of strikeouts.
The strikeouts became more of an afterthought as the powerful outfielder blossomed in his second full season. He set a record with 37 home runs by the All-Star break, and although he slowed in the second half he still led the American League in runs scored and slugging percentage. Following a down year, Jackson returned to the limelight in style by smashing a mammoth home run at the 1971 All-Star Game and helping the A's win the first of five consecutive division titles.
World Series MVP
Jackson tore a hamstring during the 1972 playoffs and missed Oakland's successful World Series run, but he returned the following year to lead the AL with 32 home runs, 117 RBIs and 99 runs and thus win the Most Valuable Player Award. This time, he remained healthy through the playoffs, and was named World Series MVP after helping the A's defeat the New York Mets.
Jackson and his notoriously combustible teammates won their third straight World Series in 1974, but after the team lost in the 1975 playoffs he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. Jackson spent one season with the Orioles before signing a hefty five-year contract to join the New York Yankees.
Big Apple Stardom
Jackson's tenure in New York got off to a rocky start. He drew the ire of teammates after criticizing Yankees captain Thurman Munson in a magazine article, and nearly came to blows with manager Billy Martin during a game. But the brash star lived up to his end of the bargain, delivering his usual big power numbers to help the Yankees win the AL East title.
Jackson started slowly in the playoffs that year, but he homered in Games 4 and 5 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He then delivered the most spectacular performance of his career in Game 6, homering on the first pitch of his at-bats in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings to tie a World Series single-game record and propel the Yankees to victory. Jackson was named World Series MVP, becoming the first position player to win the award twice, and earned the nickname "Mr. October" for his postseason heroics.
Honored with the creation of the "Reggie!" candy bar in 1978, Jackson led the team to a World Series victory over the Dodgers for the second straight year. He enjoyed perhaps his finest all-around season as a Yankee in 1980, batting .300 for the only time in his career and tying for the league lead with 41 home runs, but his disappointing 1981 campaign turned out to be his last in pinstripes.
Late Career and Retirement
After signing with the California Angels, the 36-year-old Jackson proved he still packed plenty of punch by leading the AL with 39 home runs in 1982. He walloped a combined 52 home runs from 1984-85, and after returning to Oakland for the 1987 season, he called it quits on a standout 21-year career.
A 14-time All-Star, Jackson finished with a total of 563 home runs, then sixth on baseball's all-time list, as well as a record 2,597 strikeouts. He also starred for five championship teams, living up to his "Mr. October" nickname by batting an impressive .357 with 10 homers and 24 RBIs in 27 World Series games. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993, his first year of eligibility.
Having tried his hand at broadcasting while still an active player, Jackson worked as a color commentator for ABC Sports and Angels and A's telecasts after retiring. He also dabbled in acting, appearing in such films as The Naked Gun and Richie Rich, as well as the television programs MacGyver and Malcolm in the Middle.
In 1993, Jackson settled into a permanent post-playing role as a special adviser to the Yankees. His uniform number was retired by the club that year and he was awarded a plaque at Yankee Stadium's Monument Park in 2002. In 2004, his number was retired by the A's.
In 2009, Jackson co-authored Sixty-Feet Six-Inches with Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson. Four years later he produced another book, Becoming Mr. October, about his experiences with the Yankees.
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