'Cardboard Gods': Reggie Jackson
Updated: April 23, 2010, 12:39 PM ETESPN.com
Editor's note: This excerpt from "Cardboard Gods," by Josh Wilker, focuses on the "superduperstar" of the 1970s, Reggie Jackson. Copyright © 2010 by Josh Wilker. Excerpted with permission by Seven Footer Press.
Courtesy Seven Footer Press
Topps 1976 #500: Reggie JacksonBehold the All-Star. As shadows give way to sun, he pauses, reveling for a moment in his own magnificence, readying to move onto that bright stage he was born to command. The year before I got this 1976 card, I'd caught a glimpse of the last of the A's dynasty at my first baseball game, when Ian and I had spent our voices cheering for Yaz. Our seats were in right field, close enough for the star player of the visiting team to hear us if we called his name. I don't remember if I ever did, but I do recall marveling at how he was known by everyone around me by just one name, his first name, as if the fans yelling it, or muttering it like a curse, were as intimately acquainted with him as I was with my brother. A sense of excitement and apprehension surrounded Reggie throughout the game. Where Yaz kept failing to answer the crowd's call for greatness, Reggie kept disappointing the crowd's uneasy murmuring hope that he could be contained. Finally, late, the sky darkening and the huge, blinding banks of artificial lights flooding the field in something brighter than day, Reggie capped his methodical destruction of the home team by lashing a double to plate the go-ahead run. As he stood with one foot on second base, his hands on his hips, the crowd wove their voices together in a ragged chorus of caustic, resentful awe. Just before the bottom of the ninth the sound rose up again from everyone around me, directed at the powerful gold-clad man walking toward us, to his position, the customarily unfocused haze of unhappiness for once alighting on something specific, the strutting spectacular conquering god.
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