Sunday, October 6, 2013

Reggie Jackson and the Cost of Racisim

As Walter Block points out, in a free society there would be no prohibitions against racism or bigotry. But that doesn't mean there aren't costs to being such. In a new book, home run slugger Reggie Jackson writes on why he was not picked by the New York Mets. Via NyPo:
Arizona State standout Reggie Jackson was considered the best amateur ballplayer in the country heading into the 1966 Major League Baseball draft. The team picking first that year was the lowly, awful New York Mets. 
According to Jackson’s new tell-all, “Becoming Mr. October” (Doubleday), in which he details feuds and resentments toward his old Yankee teammates, the New York media and especially his old manager Billy Martin, the only reason he did not become a Met was because his girlfriend, Juanita Campos, was Hispanic.
Jackson recalls how his coach at Arizona State, Bobby Winkles, broke the bad news.
“A day or two before the draft, Bobby Winkles sat me down and told me, ‘You’re probably not gonna be the No. 1 pick. You’re dating a Mexican girl, and the Mets think you will be a problem,’ ” Jackson writes. “ ‘They think you’ll be a social problem because you are dating out of your race.’ ”
Jackson was especially baffled because he’s part Hispanic — his grandmother is from Puerto Rico and his middle name is Martinez. But that didn’t matter, even to the perennial cellar-dwelling Mets.
“No, you’re colored, and they don’t want that,” Winkles said.
After first playing for the Oakland Athletics, Martin eventually ended up with the New York Yankees, where he became Mr. October, twice being awarded the World Series MVP. NyPo again:
Free agency came into play in the mid-’70s, and Jackson hoped to wind up on the Dodgers, gushing for a full page about the prospect of playing for Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and alongside the likes of Steve Garvey and Davey Lopes.
But the Dodgers didn’t make an offer following the 1976 season, and after Yankee owner George Steinbrenner wined and dined him at the “21” Club, then strategically walked him through the streets of New York knowing that fans would scream encouragement to the star. 
It cost the Mets dearly to be racist and failing to get one of the greatest sluggers of all time.

On a side note: I got to see Reggie Jackson hit a home run against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park, probably his first game in Fenway Park as an Oakland Athletic. I was very young and went to the game with my Cub Scout group and I really didn't know many of the players. It was a night game, and it was the first year the A's wore white shoes and the sort of glowing uniforms. Somewhere in the middle of the game, I heard an A's player take a swing at the ball and he sent it flying into the center field stands. The sound of the crack off the bat was so loud and sharp, it was different than any other hit I heard that night. It was a Reggie Jackson home run. I can still hear it ringing in my ears today.

1 comment:

  1. LOL! That's great. They are at the bottom of the league and they are worried that the half hispanic top amateur player in baseball is going to send the wrong signal to their fans (like, we don't give a toss about all this stupid racist bullish*t, we want to wind)!?! I guess when you're in a league protected from real competition you can do that sort of stuff. Great Story!!!