This Day In Sports: The ‘Straw’ stirs his way into the Hall

August 1, 1993, 30 years ago today: Reggie Jackson, long known as “Mr. October,” is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jackson, the second overall pick in the 1967 MLB Draft, became an A’s fixture when the team moved from Kansas City to Oakland in 1968. He clubbed 47 home runs in 1969, and in the 1971 All-Star Game, he hit a legendary homer that struck a light tower above the stands at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. The A’s built a powerhouse club around Jackson, leading to three straight World Series championships in Oakland from 1972-74. Rather than pay him the big bucks after the 1975 season, A’s owner Charles O. Finley traded his superstar to Baltimore.

After a year with the Orioles in 1976, Jackson became a New York Yankee in 1977 and earned his “Mr. October” nickname when he hit three home runs on consecutive pitches in the decisive Game 6 of that year’s World Series against the L.A. Dodgers. But his relationship with manager Billy Martin was legendarily adversarial, and it sometimes extended to the team. Before he had played an inning for the Yankees, it was reported that Jackson said the club needed one thing to win the World Series, and he was “the straw that stirs the drink.” That it may have been true was beside the point.

Jackson would lead the Yankees to another World Series crown in 1978, but the off-the-field tumult continued, often infuriating owner George Steinbrenner. By 1981, Jackson’s relationship with Steinbrenner was fractured beyond repair, and he signed with the California Angels as a free agent. The years in Anaheim were relatively calm. Jackson played one final season back in Oakland in 1987. He was the straw that stirred up, well, a lot of stuff. But Jackson is one of the greats, with 563 career home runs (14th all-time).

Note: Jackson actually began his pro career in Idaho, as he was assigned to the Lewis-Clark Broncs of the Northwest League in Lewiston after being drafted. He went 0-for-5 in his debut at Eugene, but he was in a groove by the time he made his home debut, doubling and tripling in his first appearance in Lewiston. Jackson played only 12 games with the Broncs. He suffered a concussion in early July and was held overnight for observation at St. Joseph’s Hospital. When he was healthy again, Jackson was promoted to Modesto of the California League, where he hit 21 home runs the rest the season. The legend had been launched.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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