Becoming Mr. October

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Book Summary: Reggie Jackson talks about his rise to fame in Oakland, winning three World Series championships before moving to New York to cement his status as “Mr. October.”

reggie5Love him or hate him, Reggie Jackson is a baseball icon, one of the greatest. His personality alone deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame, but his heroic play on the field earned him his plaque in Cooperstown. He grew up in Pennsylvania and worked hard to make it into Major League Baseball. His rookie seasons came when black players were still given the cold shoulder and always looked at differently. What I found interesting about his story were the struggles he faced growing up. Whether it was borrowing a friend’s bike or dating white girls, Reggie faced challenges every day. Those events developed his tough skin, something he needed to progress through the minor leagues and on his path to superstardom. This story is from his perspective. The dialogue digs deep into the setbacks he faced every day at home, in the dugout and in the press. He may deny this quote or that action, may put his spin on events, but his biggest claim is always that he told the truth.

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Jackson won five championships, one league MVP award, and two World Series MVP awards. Despite all that hardware, Jackson’s grandest claim to fame is one magical night in October. During Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Reggie became just the second player ever (behind Babe Ruth) to hit three runs in a single game. “Mr. October” was born that night, and his place among the immortals secured.

Like many celebrities of any era, the bigger you get, the more drama you attract. Reggie lived for the spotlight, and his ego was one of the biggest in the sport. No matter what he did, whether it was deemed good or bad, Reggie was always misquoted, which led to less playing time just because he was black, as I mentioned earlier, his story from his point of view. History does show that during his time with the New York Yankees (1977-1981), they were a four-alarm fire most days. Since he just got paid the most and was the de facto face of the franchise, he took most of the heat.

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Jackson had many great and not-so-great moments in the Bronx. The Yankees honoured his heroics by retiring his number 44 in Monument Park. Despite the love/hate relationship, Jackson has returned to the team on several occasions to act as a special advisor.
Although Reggie went to play in California for a couple of teams, including the Athletics, there is hardly a mention. He stuck to his most significant moments without boasting or bragging about his accomplishments. He just explained it as it was and didn’t hold back on his side of the story.
Jackson retired before I was old enough to remember anything about sports. As an avid baseball fan, I have gotten to know who he was and what he accomplished. Now and then, I get a Reggie Jackson reprint baseball card and enjoy the surprise. He was a central figure in one of the wildest periods in Yankees’ history. As I continue to explore the 1977-78 baseball seasons through various books, it has been a fun journey down memory lane.
I was concerned the book would be highly biased and paint a different picture than the history books say. It didn’t. I thought it was a vivid read about the events behind the curtain of those back-to-back championships. If you are a Jackson admirer, I would recommend you pick up a copy.

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