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Reggie Jackson’s tell-all autobiography accuses the Mets of racism

Oct 7, 2013, 8:57 AM EDT

Reggie Jackson

Reggie Jackson has an auto-biography coming out and, based on this New York Post capsule of it, it’s gonna be a barn-burner. Even if most of the stories in it have made the rounds before, you have to figure that Jackson’s profoundly Jackson-centric view of most things in the world will make for good reading.

One story the Post mentions is one I had heard once or twice before, but can’t remember where. It’s about how the Mets didn’t draft him with the top pick in 1966 despite the fact that he was far and away the best prospect. Why? Jackson says it was racism. he said his college coach, Bobby Winkles, told him so:

“A day or two before the draft, Bobby Winkles sat me down and told me, ‘You’re probably not gonna be the No. 1 pick. You’re dating a Mexican girl, and the Mets think you will be a problem,’ ” Jackson writes. “ ‘They think you’ll be a social problem because you are dating out of your race … you’re colored, and they don’t want that,” Winkles said.

The Mets took Steve Chilcott. Alas.

Of course with anything connected to Jackson, you can’t be sure how much of it is truth and how much of it is what Jackson has convinced himself is truth. Like, I have no doubt that the Mets were aware that Jackson was good, but whether they stayed away for the reasons Jackson said or other reasons — like, maybe Jackson’s marked amount of, um, self-confidence didn’t jibe with the mid-60s baseball sensibility — is probably up for debate.

Same with the other stories, many of which the Post capsule details and which make for good reading even if you don’t plan on getting the book. Was Billy Martin a pain in the butt? I’m sure of it. Was Jackson an innocent victim and impartial chronicler of Martin’s actions? Uh, guessing not. Jackson was a great, great player. He’s also, by most accounts, a tremendous pain the hiney.

Which means that you know this book is gonna be fun to read.

  1. mybrunoblog - Oct 7, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    Reggie Jackson. Incredible baseball talent and an incredible windbag.

  2. yahmule - Oct 7, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    Buy Sparky Lyle’s Bronx Zoo instead. You get a relatively impartial view on the Jackson/Martin tiff (both egomaniacs) and stories of George Steinbrenner storming into the clubhouse and telling a player he “looked like a monkey trying to **** a football out there!”

    Also, cake sitting.

  3. hushbrother - Oct 7, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    Did Tom Yawkey own the Mets at that time?

    • TheMorningStar - Oct 7, 2013 at 12:36 PM

      Nah, Yawkey was too busy being a racist/cheapskate up in Boston.

      Consider:

      a) First MLB team to try out Jackie Robinson…and didn’t sign him.

      b) First team to have a shot at signing Willie Mays….and they didn’t sign him.

      c) First team to have a shot at signing Harmon Killebrew…and they were too cheap to sign him.

      Stupid, racist, and cheap is no way to run a ballclub. The ‘curse of the bambino’? Just a silly cover story to deflect the real reason the Red Sox went decades without a title.

  4. superturtle611 - Oct 7, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    We’re the Mets really wrong? They might have used different data but they came to the right conclusion, Reggie Jackson could be a handful. The Mets decision that those problems outweighed his talents is something they have live with. Another thing we are missing is that we are looking at this with a 2013 mindset. Yes, it was wrong back then too, but it was an opinion shared by a much larger group. Finally, get over it. It was 52 years ago.

    • superturtle611 - Oct 7, 2013 at 10:09 AM

      Sorry, it was only 47 years ago.

    • historiophiliac - Oct 7, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      WTF. Worry about ego is one thing. Not picking you because you’re black and your girlfriend is Mexican is another. And, the one who needs to “get over” racism, is the party that was doing the discrimination.

      • superturtle611 - Oct 7, 2013 at 2:16 PM

        When it is 47 years later and the incident had no real bearing on your career then yes, get over it. He is like a guy who has a wonderful marriage with someone for over 4 decades, but all he thinks about is the bad relationship he had with his high school girlfriend.

      • historiophiliac - Oct 7, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        It’s an autobiography, dude. He’s telling what happened. That’s the point. He is recounting a conversation he had in regard to his signing. Do you not understand autobiographies? The point is to revisit things from your past. Plus, FYI, discrimination stays with you. Are you a white guy?

  5. blacksables - Oct 7, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    I grew up around a bunch of red-neck, racist assholes, and I have no use for any of them. However, as much as I want to give them anything at all, I would have to think this is baloney.

    None of them ever cared what race any minority was dating as long as it was white.

    To think that any of these idiots would be worried or offended by a black man dating a Mexican girl gives them credit for more intelligence any of ever had.

    Bigots are pretty much color blind and see two colors. White, and everything else.

    I don’t have any doubt that Jackson face racism in his life, but this sounds like a convenient excuse for not being picked first than an actual issue.

    The Mets feasted on the pitchers they took. Seaver, Koosman, Matlack, Ryan, among others. Taking a pitcher first over Jackson was perfectly reasonable.

    • pjmitch - Oct 7, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      Except Chilcott was a catcher……

      • pjmitch - Oct 7, 2013 at 9:43 AM

        Of course knowing the Mets, maybe like you, they thought he was a pitcher

      • yahmule - Oct 7, 2013 at 9:44 AM

        The name Jerry Grote was always good for a chuckle.

      • blacksables - Oct 7, 2013 at 9:47 AM

        Damn, for some reason I had always thought he was a pitcher. Thanks for the info.

        Okay, not as reasonable, but they obviously needed someone to catch all those pitchers.

    • NatsLady - Oct 7, 2013 at 9:52 AM

      Pretty much true, except it depends how “fair-skinned” the Mexican lady was.

  6. largebill - Oct 7, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    As you said, no way to know how much truth is in any story especially one like this that is third hand. The baseball draft is known more for misses than for accurately picking which amateur will have a great pro career. Indians selected Paul Shuey a spot or two before Yankees took Jeter. In hindsight that looks as bad as Chilcott over Jackson. However, no team intentionally picks poorly. They all want to be more successful. Was racism more pervasive in 1966 than today? Sure. However, that is almost 20 years after Robinson made his debut with the Dodgers and well into the careers of several all time greats who happened to be men of color.

    Someone with more time & patience than I do can go back through the past drafts. My guess is more than half of the time the best player in any draft is not one of the first five selected. Player development is just too difficult to project.

  7. dustyda - Oct 7, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    Always love that picture, not for Jackson but because it has Steve Yeager!

  8. earpaniac - Oct 7, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    And knowing Reggie, he will claim he invented the home run, and had a hand in creating the Yankees.

    As a sidenote, “Bronx Zoo” is my favorite baseball book. Still have my copy I bought at 10. Plus, I now get to mention Ed Whitson losing it. Lol

  9. bdunker - Oct 7, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Reggie never could stand not being in the limelight. But it takes a racist to know a racist. Anything to sell a book.

    • historiophiliac - Oct 7, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      No, it most certainly doesn’t take a racist to know a racist. What an incredibly dumb statement.

  10. jaws7kid - Oct 7, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    Wonder if Reggie remmebered to put this incident with Mike Epstein with the 1972 A’s in his book ?

    “Epstein: “The reason I got traded from Oakland (to the Texas Rangers) was because there was an altercation in the clubhouse in Texas. Reggie Jackson was spouting off, doing dumb things…and I wound up going over and knocking him out. He was unconscious on the floor…club owner Charlie Finley…got me on the phone and said, ‘I ought to trade you.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘You’re the bad apple.’ I said, ‘I would think that you would go and ask the other guys on the team. The bad apple is unconscious on the floor in the clubhouse.” (Dave Cohen, Matzoh Balls and Baseballs , 2010, Havenhurst Books; p. 73)

  11. yahmule - Oct 7, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Mickey Rivers famously told Reginald Martinez Jackson, “You have a white man’s first name, a Mexican man’s middle name and black man’s last name. No wonder you’re all ****ed up.”

  12. anxovies - Oct 7, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    I have no doubt that Billy would have kicked Reggie’s butt if Jackson had taken him on, despite the 50+ pounds and the age difference. Billy could really fight and showed it during his playing career.

    • yahmule - Oct 7, 2013 at 4:39 PM

      Like the despicable sucker punch he hit Jim Brewer with that made him so proud?

  13. billybawl - Oct 7, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    This is old news. Reggie made the same statement in at least one (Lupica) if not two (Libby) biographies he cooperated on, at least 30 years ago. Before you say it’s nonsense, George Weiss ran the Mets at the time and he’s been accused of holding back African Americans when he was with the Yankees’ farm system. So maybe he’s wrong, but it’s not far fetched.

    Honestly, I hope the new bio has juicier tidbits and isn’t just rehashing prior biographies.

  14. jaws7kid - Oct 7, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    Reggie ALWAYS has to be in the limelight, or part of it. Ever notice as a “Special Consultant” to the Yankees, he’s always “Happens” to be in uniform & in the dugout, so he can run on to the field with the active players to congratulate a player when they breaks a Yankeee or MLB record ?

    Why is his Yankee number retired ? He was there from 1977-81. Come to think of it, why are Maris & Martin’s number’s retired as well ?

  15. chuckpurcell2013 - Oct 13, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    It has always been my understanding that Reginald Martinez Jackson was half hispanic. Maybe someone should have told the Mets he wasn’t dating “out of his race”. While I believe Reggie heard that story, I do not think a team in New York would have cared one way or the other.

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