Suddenly, the chant began. “Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie,” they called, the name reverberating through a stadium that once chanted for The Babe, Joe D and Mickey. We all knew it, but this Opening Day, 1977, was just the final reminder: is there any other place in baseball for the likes of Reggie Jackson?”
Reggie did nothing spectacular yesterday as the Yankees shit out the Brewers 3-0 before 43,785. He had two singles, scored two runs, dove head-first into third base, dived for a fly-ball double and scored with a cloud of dust in a fadeaway slide on a suicide squeeze.
But man, he was there, Reggie Jackson, No 44, the hottest dog in baseball, the superstar of charisma, excitement, joy, suspense, energy, flamboyance, a home-run hitter finally playing in the ballpark where The Home Run was invented.
The Yankees will be an exciting team, an excited team, a team that will play before noisy crowds all year. And Jackson, of course is the biggest noise. Maybe not the best player, but the one who will draw the loudest cheers, the loudest oohs, the loudest boos. He’s spent his career in Oakland and Baltimore, ghost towns, and that is a terrible thing to happen to a man who craves love and approval from his audience. Yankees stadium could be an orgy for the man.
“Man that turns on your adrenaline button,” Reggie said, talking about the chants he heard when he led off the eighth inning. “I never had that happen before like it did today. It makes you smile inside. It makes you feel good. It makes you feel secure, wanted, loved, liked, confident. They’re saying, ‘Come on man; hit one out for us; finish off our day.’ I’da loved to hit one. It wasn’t cause I wasn’t trying.”
NYT Hecht 4/8/77