Called "the most theatrical baseball player of the last quarter century," Reggie Jackson made headlines with his egomaniacal remarks, hot temper and flamboyant manner.
His remarkable achievements run to both extremes: ten World Series home runs; five World Championships; 11 American League Championships with three different teams; and holding the major league record for lifetime strikeouts at 2,597.
Jackson was the second pick in the 1966 amateur draft by the Kansas City Athletics. In 1968, his first full season in the majors, he hit 29 home runs, and drove in 74 runs but he also made a dozen outfield errors and struck out a near record-breaking 171 times. The following season he again led the league in strikeouts with 142 but hit a fantastic 47 home runs and led the American League in scoring with 123 runs. Jackson credits then vice-president of the Athletics Joe DiMaggio, the Hall-of-Fame center fielder of the New York Yankees, with developing his skills as a hitter.
Voted the American League's Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1973, Jackson batted .293 and led the league with 32 home runs. That year the Athletics defeated Baltimore to win the pennant and eventually the World Championship over the New York Mets, with Jackson batting .310, driving in six runs and hitting two home runs in the seventh game. Leading the league in runs, he was chosen MVP in the World Series.
The night of October 18, 1977 was on of Jackson's greatest triumphs. In the final game of the World Series against the Dodgers he hit three consecutive home runs, drove in five runs and brought the Yankees to victory, winning 8-4. He had hit a Series record breaking five home runs.
Jackson followed that spectacular season with a second Series win against the Dodgers in 1978. He scored two runs, added eight RBIs and batted .391. That year the first Reggie! chocolate candy bar appeared but lasted only a short while as public interest waned. His walloping World Series hitting earned him the title "Mr. October," as he could always be counted on to pull his team to victory in a clinch.
The 1980 season proved to be another fine one as Jackson hit a career high of .300 with 41 home runs and 111 RBIs. The Yankees won the American League pennant in 1981. In keeping with his fashion of coming through for the team, he hit his tenth and final Series home run that year. The California Angels signed Jackson on in 1982, and in a stunning achievement, he reached the 500-homer plateau in 1984. Jackson retired in 1987, sixth on the all-time major leagues career home run list with 563 during his 21 year career.
After retiring, Jackson worked briefly as a sports broadcaster for the Angels before moving on to coach for the Athletics. The crowning achievement of his career came on August 1, 1993 when Jackson became the 216th inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the only player to be so honored in that year. On his plaque he chose to be shown in the Yankee stripes, the uniform he found most fitting.