By Ross Forman
Editor’s note: Ross Forman has written about the National Sports Collectors Convention for 25 years – from the hoopla around the Pinnacle card of Nolan Ryan that was a limited giveaway and, by the end of the show that year, was selling for $1,000, to the hysteria around the autograph (or lack thereof) that National officials proposed for Steve Bartman to sign at the show one year in Chicago in exchange for $25,000. Ross will be in Atlantic City, N.J., covering the 2016 National, too – with a full post-show report on his unique findings on the floor and the wild antics in the Tristar Autograph Pavilion.
This is one of Forman’s installments of On The Road To The National, profiling several high-profile autograph signers along the way both in print and online for SCD. Enjoy Ross’ feature story on Reggie Jackson below.
His legacy as an elite and, at-times, unstoppable hitter had already been established when Reggie Jackson of the host N.Y. Yankees stepped into the batter’s box on Oct. 18, 1977, in Game 6 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In the fourth inning, Jackson drilled a pitch from Burt Hooton into the stands.
In the fifth inning he nailed a pitch from Elias Sosa into the stands.
In the eighth inning, Jackson ripped a pitch from Charlie Hough into the stands.
Jackson, with three swings resulting in three home runs, blossomed into Mr. October.
Only Babe Ruth had ever hit three homers in a World Series game, and he did it twice (in 1926 and in 1928), but Ruth didn’t do it on consecutive pitches or consecutive at-bats, as Jackson did.
Jackson’s amazing home-run streak helped the Yankees win the game and the 1977 World Series title, the team’s first since 1962.
That 1977 World Series performance was, without question, the night that stands out the most from his career, he said. And that has since been the most-asked-about moment, for sure, he said.
“I’m very grateful and very thankful for the success I had; I feel very, very fortunate. I had lots of breaks,” he said.
Jackson played 21 seasons and was in the playoffs 11 times, winning six pennants and five World Series. He won both the regular season and World Series MVP awards in 1973, and smacked 563 career home runs.
Jackson was a 14-time All-Star and, naturally, a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1993.
Jackson made his major league debut on June 9, 1967, for the Kansas City Athletics, and that affiliation shifted to Oakland, too. He played for the Baltimore Orioles in 1976, then landed in New York in 1977, where he played through 1981. Jackson played outfield for the California Angels from 1982-86, then his final season (1987) for Oakland.
He was a .262 lifetime hitter with 2,584 hits and 1,702 RBIs.
“I was a fan of the game before I became a player,” said Jackson, who was born in Pennsylvania and ultimately attended Arizona State University.
A young Jackson tells of playing stick-ball and wiffle ball.
He recalls greats of the game, such as Jackie Robinson and Monte Irvin, yet Duke Snider was, he admitted, his favorite player.
Jackson made his first All-Star Game appearance in 1969, starting in center field.
“I went and got autographs from the (other) players,” at that game, he said. “I’ve always collected stuff.”
In fact, Jackson has collected more than 100 of his prized rookie card – the 1969 Topps release (No. 260).
Jackson also has collected cards and other memorabilia of some of the game’s all-time greats, such as Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford.
He has souvenirs from others too, such as Joe Rudi, Sal Bando, Vida Blue and Bert Campaneris. And Alex Rodriguez, too.
Jackson’s memorabilia collection isn’t just baseball-focused. He also has relics and/or signatures from Joe Montana, Franco Harris, Jim Brown, Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas, Walter Payton, Dick Butkus, Randy White, Jerry Rice, Fred Biletnikoff, George Blanda and others.
“I have a lot of good stuff,” said Jackson, who appeared earlier this year as an autograph guest at a Tristar Productions show. “I like walking through shows, seeing if there’s something I want to buy.”
Jackson said his collection does not yet include relics related to Tim Duncan and LeBron James, but the basketball players are on Jackson’s wish-list. After all, he has an autograph from one of the NBA’s best ever: Wilt Chamberlain.
“I like the hobby; I really enjoy it,” Jackson said. “The shows are a great place to bring the family – old (and) young, men, women and children. The shows are a great experience for me. It’s a real cool experience for me coming to shows.”
Jackson almost always finishes his signing at shows, then walks around, searching for souvenirs he wants for his collection.
And Jackson isn’t just a casual collector. He knows what’s out there, what’s available and he’s very knowledgeable about pricing.
“The No. 1 guy in the hobby now, still is (Mickey) Mantle,” Jackson said. “Sports memorabilia is great, and I hope people really enjoy it. It’s a fun hobby that brings back so many great memories.”
Such as that memorable night in October 1977.
Or the three World Series titles that Jackson and the A’s won in Oakland, 1972-74.
“The three World Series titles that we won in a row were great, just an overall great experience,” he said. “We were recognized as one of the great dynasties in sports. That was nice.”
- Jackson smacked his first career home run on Sept. 17, 1967, playing for the Kansas City A’s in Anaheim, Calif. He drilled the 500th home run of his career on Sept. 17, 1984, playing for the Angels against the Kansas City Royals.
- When asked what pitchers he would have like to have faced during his career, Jackson said Bob Gibson, as they only faced off in All-Star Game action. Jackson added Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax and Greg Maddux to that list. Ideally, he would have faced those Hall of Fame pitchers in the postseason “because I had better luck then,” he said.
JACKSON SET TO SIGN AUTOGRAPHS
Jackson is slated to sign autographs on Saturday, Aug. 6, at the 37th annual National Sports Collectors Convention. Also that day, the signers include Randy Johnson, Rod Carew, Joe Namath, Mariano Rivera, Mike Schmidt, Mike Piazza, Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray, Brooks Robinson and others.
For more information about the Tristar Autograph Pavilion at The National, go to www.tristarproductions.com/National.