Wednesday, October 19, 1977

The Moving Finger Writes, Etc.

It had to happen this way. It had been predestined since Nov. 29, 1976, when Reginald Martinez Jackson sat down on a gilded chair in New York’s Americana Hotel and wrote his name on a Yankee contract. That day he became an instant millionaire, the big honcho on the best team money could buy, the richest, least inhibited, most glamorous exhibit in Billy Martin’s pin-stripped zoo. That day the plot was written for last night – the bizarre scenario Reggie Jackson played out by hitting three home runs, clubbing the Los Angeles Dodgers into submission and carrying his supporting players with him to the baseball championship of North America. His was the most lurid performance in 74 World Series, for although Babe Ruth hit three home runs in a game in 1926 and again in 1928, not even that demigod smashed three in a row.

Reggie’s first broke a tie and put the Yankees in front, 4-3. His second tattened the advantage to 7-3. His third completed arrangements for a final score of 8-4, wrapping up the championship in six games.

Jackson had made a home run on Saturday and another in his last at bat on Sunday. His first at bat last night was a walk so in his last four official turns he hit home runs. In his last nine times at bat, this Hamlet in double knits scored seven runs, made six hits and five home runs and batted in six runs for an average of .687 compiled by day and by night on two seacoasts 3,000 miles and three time zones apart.

Ever since the Yankees went to training camp in March, Jackson had lived in the eye of the hurricane. All summer long as the spike-shod capitalists bickered and quarreled, contending with their manager, defying their owner, Reggie was the most controversial, the most articulate, the most flamboyant.

His first home run knocked the Dodgers’ starting pitcher, Burt Hooton out of the game. His second disposed of Elias Sosa, Hooton’s successor. Jackson was the lead off hitter in the eighth. For the third time, Reggie hit the first pitch but this one didn’t take the shortest distance between two points. Straight out from the plate the ball streaked, not toward the neighborly stands in right but on a soaring arc toward the unoccupied bleacher’s in dead center, where the seats are painted black to give batters a better background. Up the white spec climbed, dwindling, diminishing until it settled at last half way up those empty stands, probably 450 feet away. This time he could not disappoint his public. He stepped out of the dugout and faced the multitude, two fists and one cap uplifted. “I must admit,” said Steve Garvey, the Dodgers’ first baseman, “when Reggie hit his third home run and I was sure nobody was listening, I applauded into my glove.”

When the last jubilant playmate had been peeled off his neck, Reggie took a seat near the first-base end of the bench. The crowd was still bawling for him and comrades urged him to take a curtain call.

ex NYT Smith 10/19/77

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