Born: May 18, 1946
Place of Birth: Wyncote, PA
Zodiac Sign: Taurus
Reginald Martinez Jackson (born May 18, 1946) is an American former professional baseball right fielder who played 21 seasons for the Kansas City / Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, and California Angels of Major League Baseball (MLB). Jackson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.
Jackson was nicknamed "Mr. October" for his clutch hitting in the postseason with the Athletics and the Yankees. He helped Oakland win five consecutive American League West divisional pennants, three consecutive American League pennants and three consecutive World Series titles, from 1972 to 1974. Jackson helped New York win four American League East divisional pennants, three American League pennants and two consecutive World Series titles, from 1977 to 1981. He also helped the California Angels win two AL West divisional pennants in 1982 and 1986. Jackson hit three consecutive home runs at Yankee Stadium in the clinching game six of the 1977 World Series.
Jackson hit 563 career home runs and was an American League (AL) All-Star for 14 seasons. He won two Silver Slugger Awards, the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in 1973, two World Series MVP Awards, and the Babe Ruth Award in 1977. The Yankees and Athletics retired his team uniform number in 1993 and 2004. Jackson currently serves as a special advisor to the Yankees.
Jackson led his teams to first place ten times over his 21 year career.
Personal Life and Family
Jackson was born in the Wyncote neighborhood of Cheltenham Township, just north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Martinez Jackson, who was half Puerto Rican, worked as a tailor and was a former second baseman with the Newark Eagles of Negro league baseball. He was the youngest of four children from his mother, Clara. He also had two half-siblings from his father's first marriage. His parents divorced when he was four; his mother took four of his siblings with her, while his father took Reggie and one of the siblings from his first marriage, though one sibling later returned to Wyncote. Martinez Jackson was a single father, and theirs was one of the few black families in Wyncote.
Jackson graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1964, where he excelled in football, basketball, baseball, and track and field. A tailback in football, he injured his knee in an early season game in his junior year in the fall of 1962. He was told by the doctors he was never to play football again, but Jackson returned for the final game of the season. In that game, Jackson fractured five cervical vertebrae, which caused him to spend six weeks in the hospital and another month in a neck cast. Doctors told Jackson that he might never walk again, let alone play football, but Jackson defied the odds again. On the baseball team, he batted .550 and threw several no-hitters. In the middle of his senior year, Jackson's father was arrested for bootlegging and was sentenced to six months in jail.
During his freshman year at Arizona State, he met Jennie Campos, a Mexican-American. Jackson asked Campos on a date, and discovered many similarities, including the ability to speak Spanish, and being raised in a single parent home (Campos' father was killed in the Korean War). An assistant football coach tried to break up the couple because Jackson was black and Campos was considered white. The coach contacted Campos' uncle, a wealthy benefactor of the school, and he warned the couple that their being together was a bad idea. But the relationship held up and she later became his first wife. Jackson has been divorced since 1973. Kimberly, his only child, was born in the late 1980s.
During the off-season, though still active in baseball, Jackson worked as a field reporter and color commentator for ABC Sports. Just over a month before signing with the Yankees in the fall of 1976, Jackson did analysis in the ABC booth with Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell the night his future team won the American League pennant on a homer by Chris Chambliss. During the 1980s (1983, 1985, and 1987 respectively), Jackson was given the task of presiding over the World Series Trophy presentations. In addition, Jackson did color commentary for the 1984 National League Championship Series (alongside Don Drysdale and Earl Weaver). After his retirement as an active player, Jackson returned to his color commentary role covering the 1988 American League Championship Series (alongside Gary Bender and Joe Morgan) for ABC.
Jackson appeared in the film The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, portraying an Angels outfielder hypnotically programmed to kill the Queen of England. He also appeared in Richie Rich, BASEketball, Summer of Sam and The Benchwarmers. In 1979, Jackson was a guest star in an episode of the television sitcom Diff'rent Strokes and also in an episode of The Love Boat. He played himself in the Archie Bunker's Place episode "Reggie-3 Archie-0" in 1982, a 1990 MacGyver episode, "Squeeze Play", The Jeffersons episode "The Unnatural” from 1985, and the Malcolm in the Middle episode "Polly in the Middle", from 2004. Jackson was also considered for the role of Geordi La Forge in the series Star Trek: The Next Generation, a role that ultimately went to LeVar Burton. From 1981 to 1982 he hosted for Nickelodeon's Reggie Jackson's World of Sports.
He co-authored a book in 2010, Sixty-Feet Six-Inches, with fellow Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. The book, whose title refers to the distance between the pitcher's mound and home plate, details their careers and approach to the game.
The Sega Master System baseball video game Reggie Jackson Baseball, endorsed by Jackson, was sold exclusively in the United States. Outside of the U.S., it was released as American Baseball.
Jackson has endured three fires to personal property, including a 1991 fire to his home in Oakland that destroyed his 1973 MVP Award. One of his warehouses holding several of his collectible cars was damaged in a fire, with several of the cars, valued at $3.2 million, ruined.
Jackson called on former San Francisco 49ers head coach and ordained minister Mike Singletary for spiritual guidance. Jackson credits Singletary, stating "he helped me drop that shell I put up."