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Reggie’s Farewell Tour Fares Well, but Is He Really Quitting?

Boston. Detroit. Milwaukee. Reggie Jackson’s farewell tour rolls on, with Reggie raising his home run total to a respectable 13 amid the standing ovations and emotional rhetoric.

In Boston, where public address announcer Sherm Feller asked the crowd for a Fenway Park farewell to Mr. October, Jackson later told reporters:

“Fenway is what baseball is all about. A warm, summer afternoon. The Green Monster. The net. Always a packed house. The ghosts are here: Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Jimmy Foxx, Carl Yastrzemski. It’s nostalgia matched only by old Yankee Stadium. It’s a fun place to play and to watch. It’s eternal. It was here when I broke in and it’s still here when I leave.”

But is he leaving? Is he saying farewell forever or farewell until next year? Suddenly, there’s uncertainty about it. Suddenly, he isn’t saying that he’s definitely retiring, only that he probably is.

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Probably?

“I say that because of some conversations I’ve had with Tony the last few days,” Jackson said, referring to Manager Tony LaRussa of the Oakland A’s. “It depends on a lot of things, like how things go, how the team does. It’s for conversation among people here (in the organization). It’s not for conversation in public.”

What does it mean? Who knows. He came in as a straw and will go out as a straw.

A question of ethics seemed to surround what was billed as Jackson’s final at-bat in Tiger Stadium.

LaRussa sent him up as a pinch-hitter against a left-hander, Mark Thurmond, in a game the A’s had in hand. Tiger Manager Sparky Anderson promptly brought in a right-hander, Mike Henneman, to give the left-handed hitting Jackson an edge.

“He deserved a fair shot to hit one out in his last at-bat,” Anderson said. “Reggie is a friend of mine.”

The generosity was wasted. Jackson fouled out to the third baseman.

A final Reggie: After hitting a home run off Chris Bosio Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series at Milwaukee, Jackson said he had hit a mattress ball.

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“You know,” he said, “the kind you just lay on.”

The A’s would love to lay into the cocky Bosio, who improved his record to 6-2 with a 12-5 victory.

Said Oakland third baseman Carney Lansford: “He struts around out there with his 6 ERA, or whatever it is, like he’s really doing something. He’s winning games only because they’re scoring a ton of runs for him.”

The normally soft-spoken Lansford also took a shot at Detroit second baseman Lou Whitaker, whose hard slide into catcher Mickey Tettleton while scoring the winning run from first base on a double Tuesday night forced Tettleton onto the disabled list with a bruised shoulder.

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“All of that happened because he wasn’t hustling,” Lansford said of Whitaker. “He started stylin’ coming around second.”

Whitaker agreed.

“I had plenty of time,” he said. “I shouldn’t have had to slide.”

The A’s pennant hopes may rest on the ability of relief ace Jay Howell to pitch with bone chips in his elbow. So far, it looks like a losing proposition.

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The chips were discovered on the day Howell was named to the All-Star team. He was the losing pitcher in that game and has blown each of his last four save opportunities, allowing 8 hits and 8 runs in 4 innings.

The A’s may have a replacement at Tacoma in the talented but inconsistent Eric Plunk, who in his first 10 relief appearances has allowed 1 run and struck out 22 in 13 innings.

Bill Buckner thinks his career with the Boston Red Sox ended when he made that devastating error at first base in the sixth game of the World Series.

“I’d have to say things were good for me up until the sixth game,” he said. “After that, it just went down. All the bad media and fan reaction. I think everybody in this town, including the Red Sox, held that against me.”

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In addition to his many impressive statistics, Jack Clark thrives on overtime. He’s 6 for 9 with 3 home runs and 6 RBIs in extra innings. “It’s like Dave Bristol used to say about Tony Perez,” St. Louis Manager Whitey Herzog said. “If you play long enough, he’ll find a way to end the s.o.b.”

Of Clark’s 100 strikeouts, Herzog said: “I don’t worry about his strikeouts. I don’t worry about him going hitless. I only worry about him getting hurt. If he stays healthy, good things happen.”

After his 12-3 first half with the New York Mets last year, Sid Fernandez finished at 16-6. Fernandez, 10-6 overall, is struggling again. He failed to go beyond six innings in six straight starts before pitching eight innings in Friday’s 5-2 win over Houston in the first game of a doubleheader. He was 1-4 over those six starts as he allowed 25 earned runs in 29 innings.

Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said Fernandez is thinking negatively.

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“He keeps waiting for bad things to happen,” Stottlemyre said.

Of Mark McGwire, Sparky Anderson said: “He’ll get to 45 (homers), and then the pressure will set in. He’s not going to break those records.”

There didn’t seem to be any pressure as McGwire batted .420, hit 9 homers and drove in 15 runs in the A’s 12 games against Anderson’s Tigers this year.

The other strongman in the Oakland attack, Jose Canseco, hit an upper-deck homer into the center-field bleachers above the 440-foot mark at Tiger Stadium last week. Walt Terrell, the pitcher who gave it up, said: “As long as nobody got hurt and I don’t get sued, it’s all right.”

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Said Detroit pitching coach Billy Muffett about Canseco: “I’ve never seen a man that big swing a bat as well as he does.”

Lively baseballs or suspect arms? There are currently 140 pitchers on major league rosters who have either been released by another club or have been in the major leagues for two years or less. Inexperience and ineffectiveness are rampant.

The Baltimore Orioles have won 11 in a row and are 11-1 since the fiery Billy Ripken was brought up to play second base. Said Ray Knight: “The difference in attitude is because of one man--Billy Ripken.”

The youngest Ripken, incidentally, is brother Cal Jr.'s 20th double-play partner since 1982.

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Kansas City’s George Brett blames Cleveland pitcher Sammy Stewart for initiating a series of beanball incidents between the teams and suggests that Stewart will be punished.

Said Stewart: “I’m not afraid of anybody. They know where the mound is. People in Miami know. My roommate and I took on 11 guys in a bar one night. The seven who took me on got the worst of it.”

Chicago White Sox Manager Jim Fregosi will play in the club’s old-timers’ game at Comiskey Park today, but he’s concerned about his expanding waistline.

“No head-first slides for me,” he said. “If I do, I might bounce all the way to Wrigley Field.”

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The Indians have not only recalled seven players from their Triple-A affiliate since June 28, they have also brought up three coaches: Steve Comer, Dave Roberts and Luis Isaac.

After an 11-19 start, the Tigers are 44-20 for a 55-39 record. Said Frank Tanana: “I credit Sparky with the way he’s continued to pump us up. The tougher the times got, the more encouraging he got. Everybody’s jumping on the bandwagon now, but we had nobody there except Sparky the first month. He held us together.”

Why is Pete Rose taking batting practice?

The Reds’ Paul O’Neill, Terry Francona and Kurt Stillwell are 13 for 73 pinch-hitting from the left side of the plate.

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