Reggie Jackson cracked a grin. “October weather,” he said, like no one else on the globe could. Monday’s batting practise was brisk and windy, and the sky over ancient Fenway Park were dark.
It was 44 years to the night since No. 44’s masterpiece: a three-homer effort for the Yankees in the 1977 World Series clinching game. That’s when Reggie Jackson earned the moniker “Mr. October,” which he embroidered in orange on the side of the blue cap he wore before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.
The blue hue is appropriate, but the orange is novel. Jackson, 75, joined the Houston Astros in May as a special consultant to the team’s owner, Jim Crane, whose Astros are knotted in the series with the Boston Red Sox following a wild game, 9-2, on Tuesday.
Crane and Reggie Jackson have known one other for more than a decade, bonding over golf and antique automobiles in Pebble Beach, California, where Crane owned a house. Reggie Jackson, who resides in Southern California, has also worked for Crane.
“He asked me one day, ‘Do you want to play golf tomorrow?’ and I responded, ‘No, I’ve got a match, the club championship,'” Crane explained. “He said he’d caddy for me, and I told him, ‘Reggie, you don’t have to do that.'”
Reggie Jackson thrived under pressure, hitting.357 with 10 home runs in five World Series victories for the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees. On Tuesday, he stated that the Astros’ clubhouse appeared comfortable, and that his duty was to reassure them.
“Everyone has doubts now and then,” Jackson remarked. “It’s always wonderful to hear something encouraging from someone who’s been down the route you’d like to travel, no matter how good you are or how well you’re playing.” I’ve played with great players and had a lot of support, so when a player is struggling, it’s a tremendous benefit when he can see through experienced eyes and a man says to him, ‘Don’t worry, you’re going to be OK.”
Reggie Jackson was a die-hard Astros fan even before he joined the team. Crane proudly displayed a text message from Jackson in the press elevator during Game 5 of the 2017 World Series, a tour de force by second baseman Jose Altuve.
The message stated, “Altuve, the finest player in the game.” “Who says that?” Mr. October says.”
Reggie Jackson was a Yankees consultant at the time, a position he had held since 1993, the year of his Hall of Fame induction, where an interlocking NY logo is inscribed on his plaque. With the Yankees, Jackson was more important at times than others, but he was a consistent presence at spring training, the postseason, and at different periods in between.
In the days before interleague play, Reggie Jackson played for four teams: the Athletics, the Orioles, the Yankees, and the Angels, and he never faced the Astros, who were in the National League at the time. When asked if it seemed weird not to be with the Yankees in October, he stopped.
“It feels nice,” he said. “It feels great. It’s the right guy, the perfect person for me to be with.”
Reggie Jackson, whose charitable organisation has supported STEM curriculums for impoverished children, has collaborated with Crane on community programmes in Houston, particularly those encouraging diversity and inclusion.
“He’s highly active, very similar to George in that he’s involved and making choices to manage the club, always wanting to make it better,” Jackson added. “He has empathy and he cares.”
Crane purchased the Astros in 2011, when they had the poorest record in baseball, and recruited Jeff Luhnow from the Cardinals to manage baseball operations. Luhnow launched a full-scale revamp, employing a data-driven approach to scouting and player development that has guided the Astros to a long run of competitiveness, including a World Series championship in 2017.
Crane dismissed Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch after the title was tarnished by an unlawful electronic sign-stealing scheme. The players were exempted from penalty in return for complying with the league’s inquiry, but they are often booed on the road. Reggie Jackson understands, and he believes the Astros’ success — this is their sixth consecutive trip to the ALCS — will make them a target anyway.
“It’s not bothering them,” he added. “I spent my entire career as a villain. I was the villain wherever I went with the Yankees. When you’re on the winning team, you annoy people, and they don’t like it.”
Shortstop In ways that Jackson is familiar with, Carlos Correa has slipped easily into the villain’s position for the Astros. Correa is productive, expresses his thoughts, and appears to seek attention. Through Game 3, he also had the same playoff batting average (.278) and home run total (18) as Reggie Jackson. (Jackson had a.885 to.883 advantage in on-base plus slugging percentage.)
“I’m always talking to him,” Correa remarked. “I joked with him, ‘I tied you in homers,’ and he laughed. ‘Give me some more, you’ve got enough,’ I said. We are constantly having a wonderful time. I adore Reggie; he’s a wonderful person to be around. I learn a lot from him.”
Crane is eager to learn more as well. He has two additional Hall of Famers on his team, former Astros Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, and stated he plans to increase their responsibilities.
“We’re going to employ them a little more on the drafting side before we choose people, to get a better look from a player’s viewpoint, since a lot of the individuals we’ve got making those choices have never played,” Crane explained. “I played a little bit in college, and you have to have that experience, and they know it extremely well.” They can sometimes see what’s inside folks or where he’s coming from, where it’s not all analytical.”
The A’s selected Jackson second overall in the 1966 draught, after the Mets selected Steve Chilcott, a catcher who never made it to the majors, and he definitely lived up to the expectations. Correa, the top overall choice in Crane’s inaugural draught in 2012, has done the same. Correa will be a free agent at the end of the season and has the potential to make a lot on the open market.
Reggie Jackson is also aware of the situation, as is Correa.
“When the time comes,” Correa added, “I will have that talk with him.” “Right now, I’m just focused on winning.”