Reggie Is Back in Right; Drop Everything!


Three recent headlines that shook the world:

Killer Bees Moving North From South America--April, 1976

Polar Icecap Melting--January, 1983

Reggie Back in Right Field--March, 1985

Not full-time, you understand, but recent news that Angel Manager Gene Mauch wants to try Reggie Jackson back in right field even part-time just may trigger world alarm anyhow.

Reggie back in right! This is cause to celebrate. Bring the kids. Bring the videocam. No more lazy pop flies. No more boooooooring one-hand catches. Reggie back in his old dropping grounds.

Experience thrills, chills and spills like never before as Reggie circles under a high one. Yes, Vin, the great ones make it look hard. Most guys use lotion on their hands, right? Reggie uses Rustoleum.


After all, this is the Reggie whose fielding was so suspect that Billy Martin says his entire 1977 New York Yankee pitching staff threatened to boycott if Reggie was allowed back in right.

After all, this is the Reggie who had a candy bar named after his hitting--Reggie!--and one after his fielding--Butterfingers.

Q: What do Michael Jackson and Reggie Jackson have in common? A: Both wear a glove on one hand for no apparent reason. Who can forget Reggie, Dodger Stadium, Game 4, 1981 World Series, Davey Lopes at the plate, easy fly ball, right field, uh, yes, well, . . . klunk. . . . The ball bounces off Reggie’s chest (his chest?) for a two-base error. Dodgers go on to win the game, 8-7.

Who can forget Reggie, Yankee Stadium, 1977, soft liner, right field, easy out . . . no, wait a minute, where’s Reggie? Reggie didn’t quite get there in time. Base hit. Now here’s Martin yanking him out of the game. Cameras pan to Yankee dugout for first-hand glimpse of WW III. The beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Who can forget Reggie, All-Star game, last year, Candlestick Park, line drive, right field, look out . . . watch it . . . ooops . . . ball treating Reggie’s legs like flippers on a pinball machine. Extended play.

Not to say Reggie’s name won’t be tattooed on the arm of baseball history many times over--500 home runs, Mr. October, a gentleman and scholar always--but let’s not forget: American League leader in errors five times--1968, ‘70, ‘72, ‘75, ‘76--still a record.

Luckily, Reggie can kid himself about his frying-pan hands. It was Reggie who once said: “The only way I’ll win a Golden Glove is if I buy some paint.”

Or, as Yankee Craig Nettles once put it: “The best thing about playing in New York is getting to watch Reggie Jackson play. The worst thing is getting to watch Reggie Jackson play.”

Still, that’s the wonderment of Reggie. He is a high-wire act, and he either makes it across the falls to thunderous applause or lands on his famous proboscis, but he is never, ever routine.

Which is why Reggie is back in right. Night will be a happening. Everybody gets a free hard hat. Reggie back with his public after two years absence, thousands waiting breathlessly to answer the question “Will he hurt himself?”

Nah. “It’s like riding a bike,” says Reggie. “You never forget.”

“I’m looking forward to it. I think right field is where Reggie The Ballplayer should be. I miss the fans and I think the fans miss me. Did you see attendance went down in right field when I left? We had a nice little affair going on. I loved that social interaction. People come to the ballpark just to throw jibes at Reggie. It was fun. We were a little family out there.”

In times such as these, baseball needs as much Reggie as it can get. Baseball does not need Reggie slinking back into the darkness between at-bats like a figure in a town-square cuckoo clock. Reggie has to mix , see?

“I haven’t been a successful DH,” Reggie says. “My mind wanders. When I’m on the field, I have to worry about defense--in more ways than one. . . . If you’re the DH and you make the last out, you’ve got a full half hour--30-to-40 minutes--before you hit again. You go back to the clubhouse, read books, magazines, think about the problems you had during the day. You don’t want to think about the last strike out you made or the last pop-up you had.

“If I hit a home run, I want to go out the next inning and tip my cap. Or I if I strike out, I want to go out there and take the blame. I don’t need to hide. I’m not afraid of dealing with failure. You do poorly, you face the music. It’s worth it.”

Who’da thunk it?

Reggie back in right.