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Reggie Jackson - Football Or Baseball?

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Reggie Jackson began his college career in 1964 at Arizona State University. He entered the school on a full football scholarship, but soon discovered he didn't like the football regimen and began hanging around with the baseball team. By the end of his sophomore year, he was ranked second in the pro baseball draft and football was merely an afterthought.

The Kansas City (later Oakland) Athletics chose Reggie in the 1967 amateur draft, taking him second overall, and he soon was making his mark in professional baseball. After a few quiet years, Jackson caught the nation's attention by hitting a home run over the roof of Tiger Stadium in the 1971 All-Star Game. He also was in the spotlight because he was on a red hot A's team that dominated the World Series from 1972 to 1974.

Reggie Jackson was fast becoming a household name. Though he sat out the '72 Series, he came back from his hamstring injury and in '73 and '74, began his reign over the fall classic. Free agency allowed Jackson to move to the New York Yankees after the 1974 season, and he was on his way to the media capital of the world. Thus, his rocky relationship with Yankee owner George Steinbrenner would become legendary.

Chronology

1946 Born May 18 in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, to Martinez and Clara Jackson
1953 Parents divorce and Jackson becomes self-reliant
1960 Enrolls in Cheltenham Township High School in Philadelphia
1964 Begins college career at Arizona State University on a football scholarship
1967 Chosen second in the amateur draft by the Kansas City Athletics, who would move to Oakland before Reggie plays his first game
1972 Marriage to his college sweetheart ends in divorce
1974 Time Magazine puts Jackson on its cover
1976 Traded to Baltimore Orioles
1977 Becomes a free agent. Signs lucrative five-year contract with the New York Yankees
1978 The Reggie! bar named after Jackson
1980 Leads American League in home runs for the third time in his career
1982 Leaves Yankees when George Steinbrenner refuses to renew his contract
1987 Retires after final season with the California Angels
1993 Inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame
1996 Takes front office position with the New York Yankees
1998 Fired by Steinbrenner for running up thousands of dollars in unapproved expenses on his team credit card
1999 Tries to buy the Oakland Athletics, but the deal doesn't go through
2002 Becomes a NASCAR team owner
2002 Honored at Yankee Stadium with a plaque during Old-Timers' Day festivities

The postseason would be Reggie's stage. In the 1977 World Series, Jackson became the first player to ever hit five home runs in one World Series. He hit three in sixth game alone, setting yet another record by hitting those three off of three consecutive pitches, and off of three different Los Angeles Dodger pitchers. The feat has never been duplicated.

Jackson would earn Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors in the series and become The Big Apple's most popular man. He even had a candy bar, The Reggie! bar, named after him. A great story from the candy bar fiasco is how one day the Yankee promoters gave out a bar to the almost 45,000 fans at a 1978 early season home opener. When Jackson hit a home run in the game, the fans tossed their uneaten Reggie! bars to the field (the candy bars were reportedly not that tasty). White Sox manager Bob Lemon said, "People starving all over the world and 30 billion calories are laying on the field."

Jackson helped lead two teams to five World Championships in only seven years. Writer Mike Lupica, in an article that appeared in Esquire, called Jackson, "The most theatrical baseball player in the last quarter century."

Reggie Jackson - Chronology [next] [back] Reggie Jackson - Growing Up

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