Reggie Jackson - Growing Up
Reggie Jackson was born May 18, 1946, in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, to Martinez and Clara Jackson. He was the fourth of six kids and grew up in a mostly white Philadelphia suburb. His parents had a rocky marriage and divorced when he was six. Jackson went to live with his father, a self-employed tailor and dry cleaner. Martinez Jackson had played second base in the semi-pro
Negro Leagues, and he passed along his love of the game to his son.
Jackson revered his father. "To this day," Jackson says in his autobiography, "My father is almost a mythical figure to me." His dad instilled in him the desire to settle for nothing less than excellence. Except for his relationship with his father, however, Reggie was mostly a loner. Early on he became self-reliant. He was very determined and questioned everything, always ready with an opinion on whatever subject was being discussed.
Whether it was his father's influence or the time he spent in solitude, Jackson decided early on to never settle for mediocrity. He was going to be the best at baseball, just like his idol Willie Mays. In 1960, Jackson enrolled in Cheltenham Township High School in Philadelphia, and the coaches there gave him the guidance and discipline he needed to succeed.
By the time he was thirteen, Jackson was considered the best ballplayer in town. Not only that, but he was the only black ballplayer on the Greater Glenside Youth Club, where he would experience racial prejudice and see for the first time that "being black," as he put it in his autobiography, "could be a problem." Yet it would not deter him; in fact, it made him work even harder.