New York 500 Club: Reggie Jackson

Updated: June 2, 2010, 5:23 PM ET

As Alex Rodriguez chases 600 home runs -- and beyond -- ESPNNewYork.com looks back at the seven sluggers in the 500 Home Run Club most associated with the Big Apple, either because they played their prime years with New York teams or hit No. 500 in a local uniform.

Overview

Reggie Jackson is a former Major League Baseball player who spent 21 seasons in the majors, most notably with the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees. Jackson helped the Athletics win three consecutive World Series championships between 1972-1974 and back-to-back titles with the Yankees in 1977-1978. Dubbed "Mr. October," Jackson hit five home runs (including three in Game 6) in the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers is one of the greatest postseasons of all-time. The 14-time All-Star hit 563 career home runs and was a first ballot Hall of Famer in 1993. Jackson is currently a special advisor for the Yankees.

Early Years

[+] EnlargeReggie Jackson
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesReggie Jackson spurned the Dodgers for a chance to play under the bright lights of New York.

Reginald Martinez Jackson was born on May 18, 1946 in Wyncote, Pa. Jackson was one of six kids to Martinez and Clara Jackson. Reggie's father, Martinez, was a former second baseman for the Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues.

At Cheltenham High School, Jackson excelled in baseball, track, football and basketball. Jackson attended Arizona State University on a football scholarship in 1964. After one season playing football, Jackson decided to focus his attention on baseball. As a sophomore, Jackson was selected to the All-American team.

Professional Career

Minor Leagues

The Kansas City Athletics selected Jackson in the 1966 Major League Baseball Draft with the second overall pick. Splitting his time in the minors between Lewiston and Modesto, Jackson hit .297 with 23 home runs in 1966.

Jackson was promoted to Double-AA Birmingham in 1967, batting .293 with 17 home runs and 58 RBI in 114 games.

Kansas City Athletics (1967)

Reggie Jackson hade his major league debut with the Kansas City Athletics on June 9, 1967. Jackson played in just 35 games for the Athletics, batting .178 with one home run and six RBI.

Oakland Athletics (1968-1975)

In 1968, the Athletics franchise relocated from Kansas City to Oakland. In Jackson's first season in Oakland, the slugger hit .250 with 29 home runs and 74 RBI. He struck out a career-high 171 times and led the American League in whiffs. Despite his low batting average and strikeouts, Jackson finished 17th in the 1968 AL Most Valuable Player award race.

Jackson had his best statistical season in just his second full season in the majors in 1969. Thanks to his 114 walks, Jackson led the AL in runs scored with 123 and hit .275 with 47 home runs and 118 RBI. Jackson was selected to his first of 14 All-Star games. In the offseason, Jackson went to Athletics owner Charles O. Finley about a new contract. After Finley threatened to send Jackson back to the minors, Major League Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn intervened on the situation.

Jackson's numbers declined sharply the following season, batting just .237 with 23 home runs and 66 RBI and forcing him to the bench. In the offseason, Jackson went to Santurce, Puerto Rico to work on his game with veteran Frank Robinson. Robinson led the AL in strikeouts for the fourth consecutive season in 1971 but he successfully bounced back from his poor season the year before. Jackson hit .277 with 32 home runs and 80 RBI and was selected to his second All-Star game and leading the Athletics to the American League West division title. It was the Athletics first first-place finish since 1931.

Jackson and the Athletics repeated as AL West division champions in 1972 and played the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series. In Game 5, Jackson stole home to give the Athletics a 1-0 lead and tearing his hamstring in the process. Oakland won the game 2-1 and advanced to the 1972 World Series, but Jackson was unable to play. In the World Series, Oakland defeated the Cincinnati Reds in seven games.

With his hamstring healthy, Jackson returned in 1973 and was selected the AL MVP. Jackson hit .293 with 32 home runs and 117 RBI, leading the Athletics to their third consecutive AL West pennant. Oakland advanced to the World Series for the second straight year and Jackson's health wasn't an issue. Against the New York Mets, Jackson hit a two-run home run in Game 7 as Oakland won 5-2 and back-to-back World Series titles. Jackson was selected as the World Series MVP.

In 1974, Jackson hit .289 with 29 home runs and 93 RBI. Jackson was involved in a clubhouse fight with teammate Billy North on June 5, 1974 in Detroit. The fight not only injured Jackson's shoulder but it landed catcher Ray Fosse on the disabled list with a crushed disc in his neck. Oakland defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1974 World Series to become one of two teams to win three-straight championships.

In Jackson's final season with the Athletics, the outfielder hit .253 with 36 home runs and 104 RBI.

Baltimore Orioles (1976)

Oakland Athletics owner Charles O. Finley traded Reggie Jackson to the Baltimore Orioles on April 2, 1976 along with Ken Holtzman and minor leaguer Bill VanBommell for Don Baylor, Mike Torrez and Paul Mitchell. Jackson was going to be a free agent following the 1976 season and Finley couldn't afford to re-sign him. In his one season with the Orioles, Jackson hit .277 with 27 home runs and 91 RBI. The Orioles finished second in the American League East and missed the playoffs.

New York Yankees (1977-1981)

On Nov. 29, 1976, the New York Yankees signed Reggie Jackson to a five-year contract worth $2.96 million. Jackson hit .286 with 32 home runs and 110 RBI in his first season in the Bronx. His relationship with Yankees manager Billy Martin was rocky to say the least. Martin wasn't thrilled about owner George Steinbrenner signing Jackson because he felt Reggie was a selfish player. In an interview with Robert Ward, Jackson was quoted as saying, "This team, it all flows from me. I'm the straw that stirs the drink. Maybe I should say me and Munson, but he can only stir it bad."

Things boiled over between Jackson and Martin on June 18, 1977 in a nationally televised game against the Boston Red Sox. After Jackson allowed a double to Jim Rice because of a lack of hustle, Martin replaced the outfielder in the inning with Paul Blair. Jackson and Martin got in a shouting match and had to be restrained by teammates.

The Yankees won the AL East and defeated the Kansas City Royals in the AL Championship Series. Jackson struggled against the Royals, going 2-for-16 in the series.

But Jackson would rebound and have a World Series for the ages against the Los Angeles Dodgers. In Game 6, Jackson hit three home runs and drove in five runs, earning the nickname, "Mr. October" for his clutch performance in the World Series. The last of the three home runs landed 475 feet in the black-painted hitter's background in center field of Yankee Stadium. Jackson had five home runs in the World Series and became the first player to win the World Series MVP award. Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley tied Jackson's five home run mark in the 2009 World Series.

Jackson had predicted one day they would name a candy bar after him, and wish came true in 1978. During the Yankees home opener, "Reggie!" candy bars were passed out to fans. After Jackson hit a home run, the fans showered the field with the candy that was peanuts dipped in caramel and covered in chocolate.

Jackson and Martin had another incident on July 17, 1978. Martin gave Jackson the bunt sign. Unhappy with the sign, Jackson bunted foul, and continued to bunt despite the fact Martin took the sign off. Martin fined and suspended Jackson and went on a rant afterwards attacking him and Steinbrenner. Martin said, "One's a born liar, and the other's convicted," taking a jab at Steinbrenner's illegal campaign contribution to Richard Nixon. The following day, Martin resigned as manager of the Yankees.

With Martin gone, the Yankees rallied from a 14-game deficit in the standings to tie with the Red Sox and forcing a one-game playoff for the division title. The Yankees won the AL East after defeating the Red Sox 5-4 thanks to home runs by Jackson and Bucky Dent. The Yankees defeated the Royals again in the AL Championship Series, setting up a rematch with the Dodgers in the World Series. While Jackson couldn't repeat his five home run performance, he did hit two home runs in the series, including one in Game 6 off Dodgers pitcher Bob Welch. The Yankees repeated as World Series champs, Jackson's fifth title in a span of seven years.

Jackson's last great season with the Yankees came in 1980. It was the last time he had a .300 average in his career and his 41 home runs was the second most in his career. His time with the Yankees would come to an end in 1981 after Steinbrenner decided not to re-sign Jackson. Steinbrenner would later admit that letting Jackson go was the biggest mistake he'd ever made as owner of the Yankees. During the strike-shorten season, Jackson struggled at the plate with a .237 average and hit just 15 home runs in 94 games.

California Angels (1982-1986)

The California Angels signed Reggie Jackson in 1981 to a five-year contract. Jackson helped lead the Angels to the American League West pennant in 1982, hitting 39 home runs. In his first game back at Yankee Stadium, fans chanted "Reg-GIE" in support of Jackson. Jackson hit his 500th career home run on Sept. 17, 1984 off Kansas City Royals pitcher Bud Black. Jackson made his final All-Star team in 1984 despite a .223 batting average.

Jackson led the Angels in home runs with 27 during the 1985 season but California finished second in the AL West. In 1986, Jackson moved from right field to the designated hitter position. The Angels went 92-70 and won the AL West but lost to the Boston Red Sox in seven games in the AL Championship Series.

Oakland Athletics (1987)

Reggie Jackson signed with the Oakland Athletics in 1987 to a one-year contract. At age 41, it was Jackson's final season in the majors. He hit .220 with 15 home runs and 43 RBI. Jackson ended his career with 563 home runs, which was sixth all-time when he retired in 1987. He still holds the major league record for most career strikeouts with 2,597.

Broadcasting

Reggie Jackson had a career in broadcasting while he was still an active baseball player. He was a color commentator and field reporter for ABC Sports and was a member of their World Series team in the 1980s. After he retired from baseball, Jackson briefly served as a color commentator for the California Angels. In 2009, Jackson was the host of a series titled "The Pride of October," a collection of one-on-one interviews for TBS and MLB.com. He also co-hosted a six-week radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio with Bill Pidto called, "October Nights."

Retirement

Following his retirement from baseball, Reggie Jackson was briefly an announcer for the California Angels. The New York Yankees hired Jackson as a special assistant in 1993 after he reconciled with owner George Steinbrenner.

Jackson has appeared in a handful of movies including, "The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad!," "Summer of Sam," and " BASEketball." Jackson and the 1977 Yankees were the subjects of a 2007 ESPN mini-series called "The Bronx is Burning."

Jackson was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1993 and enshrined as a member of the New York Yankees. The Yankees retired Jackson's number on Aug. 14, 1993 and the Oakland Athletics followed suit on May 22, 2004. New York also added a plaque in Jackson's honor in historic Monument Park on July 6, 2002.

In 2009, Jackson, along with Bob Gibson, co-wrote a book titled, "Sixty Feet, Six Inches: A Hall of Fame Pitcher and a Hall of Fame Hitter Talk About How the Game is Played." The two players give a candid view on the sport of baseball.

Personal

Reggie Jackson married Jannie Campos after meeting her at Arizona State University. Jackson has one daughter, Kimberly.

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