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The first home run came in the bottom of the fourth inning. Approaching the plate, Reggie Jackson averted his eyes from Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Burt Hooton so as not to draw attention to himself He took one practice swing, more the casting motion of a fly-fisherman, then snuggled his batting helmet against his head.
Jackson finally allowed his gaze to settle on the pitcher's mound, letting his pride mingle with Hooton's for a moment, in the way that boxers touch gloves. Hooton reared back and threw a fastball, his back arching like that of a high jumper trying to clear the bar. Jackson—sharing, then assuming, Hooton's arc—leaned back, swung and connected, his right leg twisting awkwardly.
A fistful of confetti tossed from the second deck in right centerfield drifted down in the shape of an imperfect V, landing just beyond the spot where the ball disappeared into the stands. The outfield camera then caught Hooton on the mound, the white blur of Jackson rounding second momentarily obscuring the sight of the pitcher, who looked like a father who can't pay his bills.
New York Yankee catcher Thurman Munson, waiting at home greeted Jackson with both hands, then gave him a little Sinatra wave of advance, as if the Yankee dugout were Munson's office and he had just asked Jackson in for smokes and a martini.
In the dugout Jackson faced the camera and slowly mouthed "Hi, Mom" three times, giving deliberate kindergarten waves.
Reggie Jackson sits at his desk, signing a stack of invitations to his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Aug. 1, the cards slanted to accommodate his lefthanded penmanship. Reggie's office at the corporate headquarters of the Upper Deck trading-card company in Carlsbad, Calif., is its own little hall of fame, cluttered with portraits, autographed baseballs, rare baseball cards, plaques and awards.
At 47 his face has the look of shale in rapids, speckled and roughed up by Ol' Man River, who has mercilessly taken scoops out of number 44's hairline as well. To hell with that. With cable-strung legs, the upper body of a cartoon genie and the alert bearing of a lifeguard, Reggie looks as if he could still play. For at least a couple of weeks. Preferably in the fall.
Reggie is shuffling a stack of business cards laced with a few stray $50 bills. When he finds the card he wants, he pokes out a phone number. It belongs to Ahmad Rashad, whom Reggie is calling to find out if he will be present for the celebrity home run contest that Reggie will host at the 1993 All-Star Game. As the phone rings at the other end of the line, Reggie hits the speakerphone button. When someone picks up, Reggie jives with him, withholding his identity.
"You don't know who this is, do you? Well, you best be careful what you say then," Reggie boasts in his best "brother" voice. "I come down there, knock you into next week."
"Who dis?" the voice asks finally.