My very first favorite player was Reggie Jackson. I really didn’t see the best of Mr. October as his greatest moments came before I was old enough to appreciate him. However, I did see two great moments first hand when he was with the New York Yankees. I remember watching Reggie hit career home run number 400 off Britt Burns on August 11th, 1980. Well, I didn’t remember the exact date as I had to look it up but considering I was seven when it happened and that I remember who the pitcher was, I would say my memory is pretty impressive, if you ask me.
The other big hit was in Game 5 of the 1981 American League Division Series, the first ALDS in history, necessitated by the player’s strike which broke the season up into two “halves”. Jackson belted a two-run home run as the Yankees defeated the Milwaukee Brewers by a score of 7-3 to advance to the American League Championship Series. An even better fact: I was at Yankee Stadium for this.
Being the nostalgic guy I am and always getting the itch to look up old baseball highlights, I thought of the 1978 World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers had jumped out to a two to nothing series advantage as the Fall Classic shifted to Yankee Stadium. This was punctuated by a classic duel at the end of Game Two by Reggie and a young Bob Welch. This at-bat still reverberates almost four decades later as Welch threw one blazing fastball after another with Jackson fouling pitch after pitch away. Finally, on pitch number nine, with two on and two out and LA clinging to a 4-3 lead, the young Welch got the better of the veteran Jackson, fanning him to end the game.
Fast forward to Game Six back in Los Angeles. It is the Yankees who are now up three games to two and are leading 5-2 in the seventh inning. Welch was summoned from the bullpen to try to keep the game close. Up stepped Reggie with a man on and he was about to write another chapter into his Mr. October scrapbook.