Of all the annual accolades in baseball, the most controversial are invariably the Most Valuable Player awards. When he was acquired for $3 million for 5 years, Jackson was described by Thurman Munson as “a slugger who can carry a club for a month.” Reggie Jackson has exceeded that reputation. Since being knighted cleanup hitter, Jackson has carried the Yankees for two months in their quest for another Eastern Division title.
In the early months of season Jackson feuded with Munson, a rift that is not completely healed. Jackson and Martin coexist in an armed truce.
When he became cleanup hitter on August 10th, the Yankees were struggling in third place, 5 games back. Since then he’s hit 13 home runs (32 total) and driven in 49 runs (111 total) and maintained his .286 average. The Yankees won 38 of 51.
Billy Martin had been discharged, many Yankee players believe, following the dugout confrontation with Jackson at Fenway in June, but Jackson persuaded Steinbrenner to keep him. And when Billy appeared gone shortly after the all-star break, Jackson spoke up for him again.
Jackson wasn’t necessarily supporting Martin out of the goodness of his heart. He realized that if the manager were dismissed, he would be considered the hangman.
But Rod Carew in Minnesota has won his sixth batting title and is finally being recognized for his value as baseball’s best hitter. Other Yankees sure to win votes are Nettles, Lyle and Rivers. The Red Sox have seven candidates: Rice, Bill Campbell, Fisk, Yaztrzemski, Butch Hobson, George Scott and Rick Burleson.
In the National League, George Foster has over 50 home runs and nearly 150 RBIs.
Anderson 10/2/77 NYT