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Roy Blount Jr.
June 17, 1974
That, says Reggie Jackson, is the impression that suffuses him after one of his majestic drives, and it is becoming commonplace as the Oakland slugger races on to a higher stardom, unfettered in life as he is at the plate
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June 17, 1974

'everyone Is Helpless And In Awe'

That, says Reggie Jackson, is the impression that suffuses him after one of his majestic drives, and it is becoming commonplace as the Oakland slugger races on to a higher stardom, unfettered in life as he is at the plate

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Catcher Dave Duncan, who was traded after that Series for telling off Finley on the plane home, was a close friend of Jackson's. "After I was hurt, he cried. He said, 'You got to play, for me!' And I started crying. That night he put me to bed. And the next day he and Joe Rudi came over and fed me.

"But then when they won the last Series game, it was the worst feeling I ever had. When they jumped and tumbled over each other I couldn't run onto the field. They all ran past me into the clubhouse. I hobbled. My leg hurt. I felt so dejected, so disgusted. I remember the next spring, last spring, L said to everybody, 'I'm going to the World Series this year. You going with me?' "

A lot goes on in Reggie Jackson's life. At home there is night life—the A's, like the Yankee teams of the '50s, have no curfew—with Playboy Club bunnies and steadier girl friends. There is a tastefully decorated penthouse apartment in Oakland, which he gets rent-free, with closets full of good clothes, including a couple of dozen leather jackets, which he also gets free. Over Jackson's bed there is a painting of a lone seagull flying in darkness. He sees himself in Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the fictional gull that breaks away from the crowd to transcend itself and then returns to help others toward limitlessness in flying.

Twice a year he trades in his free Pontiac Grand Prix on a new one. He has thriving houseplants that he waters vigorously and urges on. "Look at that boy," he exclaims, regarding a split-leaf philodendron. "He's dealing, isn't he?" He shares his big-league clothes and apartment (from which he will soon move to an $85,000 condominium in Oakland Hills) with John Summers, a white rookie. In the morning he may drive by to see his friend Ed Dohnt, the distinguished-looking white businessman who provides him his cars, and his friend Everett Moss, who is black and a handyman, and then drive on and have breakfast at Lois the Pie Queen, a pork chops-biscuits-grits-and-eggs place, where he calls Lois "Mom" and kids around with a black man wearing two gold dollar-sign pinkie rings and an Evil-Eye Fleegle hat.

And on the road he cuts a wide swath, as in downtown Minneapolis one fine afternoon, checking out high-heel shoes and leather coats, grading every girl he sees on a scale from one to 10 and rapping with all the eights and above. He even offers conversation to a girl who turns out to be plain and uninterested in talking to him, which offends him greatly. "She was a one and didn't want to talk! A one and she's got no time!" To a blonde eight in a department store he walks right up and says, "You're the best-looking lady we've seen so far. You're a superstar," and gets a date. To another blonde eight, a receptionist in a health club who remains businesslike, he says no, he doesn't need to sign up for some exercise: "I was born this way." And he runs into Bando in a department store and is delighted when Bando greets him by checking out his white shirt and red-and-white jacket and saying, "White on white went out with Sh-Boom."

In Chicago he dislikes the ribs served to him in the Playboy Club and describes them as follows to the bunny: "They were 0 for 4. With a couple of strikeouts thrown in. And a weak pop-up to the pitcher."

He gets his interviewer lodging in the booked-up hotel where the A's are staying by telling the desk clerk he needs a room for his parents. The interviewer points out all the reasons why it will be difficult for him to pose as Reggie's mom and dad: he is one person, white, not named Jackson and only four years older than Reggie. "I could've been adopted, couldn't I?" Jackson replies.

At breakfast in Chicago, Jackson talks about being a fan, a devourer of box scores: "Stargell hasn't started to pump yet. Ralph Garr started out 0 for 13, he's hitting .350 now. Willie McCovey just got his first home run after 79 at bats. Scotty was 3 for 4 yesterday." And he does his imitation of his friend the slugger, George Scott of the Brewers, saying on the phone, "I-i-i is y' got good weatha theyah?" Reggie loves George Scott, likes to call him up to discuss slugging, does his imitation of him over and over, savoring it.

Then he talks about his father, Martinez Jackson, the Philadelphia tailor who played semipro ball and raised Reggie in the suburb of Wyncote. "He was a hustler. Sold anything—from numbers to baloney. I know two things I can do: play ball and make money. That's what my old man could do.

"Everybody in my family is high-strung. My father told me, go about things hard. If he sent me to the store for some ice cream, he expected me to get it. He didn't want to know if it was raining or I had to hitch a ride or walk or wire Western Union—he wanted that ice cream. He had a phrase—he didn't want to hear any 'ar ray boo.' Any bull, in other words. I believe that now, in baseball. If the man's got to be moved to third base, you do it. Don't care how you do it, do it. Dick Williams felt the same way about it.

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