At this writing, the baseball playoffs have just gotten underway. My favorite teams, the Dodgers and the Cardinals, are watching them on T.V. just as I am. So now I’m interested in either the Red Sox or the Cubs getting the proverbial monkey off their backs. And what would be utterly sensational is the Twins nailing the Yankees in their series; the Yankees have a higher payroll than the U. S. government, and the Twins pay their players $10.00 an hour, so watching David hammer Goliath would be a baseball blessing. (Yes, I loved Game 1 of that series, and here's to the fun continuing today.) Whether I want it or not, and I don’t, I predict that it will be a Northern California World Series between the Giants and the A’s, and no one outside that geographical area will give a healthy you-know-what who wins it. If I’m right, re-runs of "I Love Lucy" will get a higher T.V. rating than the 2003 World Series.
Story of the Week
It is quite appropriate that this feature story be printed in October. The subject was named MVP in two World Series. He earned the nickname of "Mr. October" by setting a World Series record for slugging percentage at .755. Reggie Jackson was a big-game performer.
He’s also baseball’s all-time strikeout king; he struck out 2,597 times, or once every four at-bats. In addition to being all-or-nothing-at-all on offense, Jackson was not exactly the king of defense. (But he did have his defensive moments, as you’ll soon see.) He is tied with Burt Shotton for leading the AL in errors the most times, five. Yet, from 1971 to 1982, Jackson helped three different clubs win 10 division titles, six pennants, and five championships.
In 1968, Reggie hit 29 home runs. He led the league in assists with 14 and errors with 12, something of a paradox. He struck out 171 times in 553 at-bats. In July, 1969, he was two weeks ahead of Roger Maris’ pace with 40, then, for some unexplained reason, hit only seven more for the rest of the season, and finished second to Harmon Killebrew. In 1973, he won the first of four home run crowns.
Jackson made his 1973 World Series debut memorable with four hits in Game Two, doubled twice to knock in both runs in Game Six, and hit a home run and made two spectacular catches to help Oakland win Game Seven. Reggie was voted MVP of the Series to go along with his MVP award he had won in the regular season. He also homered in the opener of the 1974 Series, doubled in Game Two, and threw out a key base-runner in Game Five.
In the Fall of 1977, Reggie fulfilled his destiny and clearly became Mr. October. He homered in Games Four and Five, and homered on three consecutive pitches in Game Six. Since he’d hit a homer on his last swing of Game Five, and walked his first time at bat in Game Six, Jackson had hit four straight homrs in four official at-bats off four different pitchers. He set other World Series records for homers in a Series with five, runs scored with 10, and total bases with 25.
After getting his name on a candy bar, he won a home run crown in 1980 with the Yankees, a fourth in 1982 with the Angels, and ended his career with the A’s in 1987, retiring with 563 home runs.
The nickname of "Mr. October" was richly deserved. When it came to the World Series, Reggie Jackson was as good a clutch performer as it gets.
Last Week’s Trivia
Who is the only player ever to complete an unassisted triple play in World Series competition? Shortstop Bill Wambsganss of Cleveland did it in the fifth game of the 1920 World Series against Brooklyn. He caught a batted line drive, stepped on second to double-up the runner there, and tagged the runner from first who thought the ball had gone through for a hit.
Trivia Question of the Week
Who is the only pitcher to register three shutouts in a single World Series? An incredible feat, he did it in six days. See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.