Reggie Jackson- "Mr. October"
40 years ago this month, Reggie Jackson knocked 3 home runs in the 6th game of the World Series, catapulting the New York Yankees to their first title in 15 years.
In a kaleidoscopic summer that saw the Big Apple beset by the “Son of Sam” murders, a power blackout and a fiscal crisis, the Yankee slugger lit up the Bronx with all the hopes and dreams of a city in despair.
Jackson joined the pin-striped Yanks earlier that season after spending 9 years with the Oakland Athletics where he built his reputation as a post-season clutch batter.
A four-sport varsity athlete in high school, Jackson played both baseball and football at Arizona State. He joined the Kansas City Athletics following his sophomore year and was one of the young players that owner Charles Finley carried off to Oakland when the team moved in 1968.
An offensive producer with a restive disposition, Jackson ended up tangling with Finley over his salary in 1969 after manufacturing 47 home runs, 118 RBI, 123 runs and a .608 slugging percentage.
Jackson also verbally sparred with Dick Williams over his dictatorial management style and engaged in a brawl with fellow teammate Billy North during a game at Tiger Stadium in 1974.
Despite the overall dysfunctional relationships inside the A’s clubhouse, the team won three consecutive championships in 1972, ’73 and ’74. Jackson emerged from the 1973 season as the American League MVP and followed up with a World Series MVP in a hard-fought seven game series against the Mets. His two-run blast in the decisive match helped seal a final victory.
1976 saw Jackson traded to the Baltimore Orioles but a year later he would ink a 5-year, $2.96 million deal with the New York Yankees, becoming the highest paid player in Major League Baseball.
Owner George Steinbrenner bought the struggling Yankees from CBS in 1973 and a national title still proved to be elusive. After losing the Fall Classic to the Cincinnati Reds in 1976, the controversial baseball executive picked up the west coast superstar to bolster his roster.
Similar to his tenure in Oakland, Jackson’s five seasons in New York were fraught with ego clashes and team friction, punctuated by two back-to-back championships in 1977 and 1978.
During the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was Thurmon Munson, Yankees catcher and Captain, who gave Jackson his nickname “Mr. October” in an off-the-cuff remark to a reporter.
Jackson drove 5 home runs in that Series, three of which came in the game 6 clincher. The bat-swinging virtuoso became the first player to hit three balls out of the park in a single World Series game since Babe Ruth achieved the feat in 1928 (and 1926).
Facing the Dodgers again in 1978, Jackson ripped 3 homers, 2 of which came in the decisive match. The Yankees repeated their 4-2 score over their adversaries from the previous year.
After leaving the Yankees in 1981, Jackson joined the California Angels for a 5-year stint. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.
By the end of Jackson’s career, his World Series batting average bested his regular season mark by 95 points- .357 to .262- cementing the clutch hitter's well-deserved nickname of “Mr. October”.
BASKETBALL February 20, 2010 Kirk Hinrich of the Chicago Bulls breaks a franchise record, scoring his 771st three-point field goal and clearing the 770 mark set by Ben Gordon. Coming out of the University of Kansas, Hinrich put in stints with the Bulls, Wizards and Hawks during his NBA career from 2003-2016. He was a member of Team USA when they won bronze at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan.
HOCKEY February 15, 2000 NJ Devils’ Martin Brodeur becomes the first ever NHL goalie to receive credit for a game-winning goal. Facing the Flyers, he was the last Devil to touch the puck before it went into the opponent’s net when one of the Flyers’ own players accidentally scored his own goal. Considered one of the best goalies of all time, Brodeur won 3 Stanley Cups and 2 Olympic gold medals representing Canada.
MOTOR RACING February 18, 1990 Derrike Cope wins the 32nd edition of the Daytona 500 stock car race. Driving a Chevrolet for the Whitcomb Racing team and winning his first NASCAR chase, Cope beat out runner-up Terry Labonte and third place finisher Bill Elliott. Dale Earnhardt led the pack for 155 laps, or ¾ of the race and came short towards the end when his car ran over a piece of metal on the track, shredding his right rear tire.
OLYMPICS February 15, 1980 American Eric Heiden wins the 500 meter speed skating race at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. The Wisconsin native wrapped up the tournament with a total of 5 gold medals, including the 500, 1000, 1500, 5000, and 10000 meter chases. Heiden broke 4 Olympic records and 1 world record in the competitions and is considered the best overall athlete- sprint and long- in the sport’s history.