#Hot Corner

Was Charlie Lau right about Reggie?

I've set my DVR to automatically record every episode of MLB Network's Studio 42 with Bob Costas, which is just a really good program. Last week while I was in Nashville, the machine grabbed Costas's interview with Reggie Jackson.

After 1981, Reggie became a free agent and the Yankees didn't try to sign him. So he went to play for the Angels. Reggie, after watching a clip of himself hitting a monster home run against the Yankees in April of '82, says this about George Steinbrenner:

We had our bouts. I don't think we ever were enemies there, in New York, even when I was leaving. He was listening to people that thought I couldn't play any more. The biggest person that was discussing that was Charlie Lau, who thought I was too muscular, and just would break down ...

--snip--

I wound up going to Anaheim, and I wasn't there for two years before George Steinbrenner said, "I think the biggest mistake I made in baseball so far was letting Reggie Jackson go."

I remember reading it. I was in South Francisco -- I'd heard it on the radio before before I read it -- and I said, "Gosh, he's able to admit making a mistake. We became friends after that. Before I retired, I had a chance to go back and play another year with the Yankees ... in '87 and '88. I just didn't think I had enough to go back. I didn't want to go back there and fail.

My guess is that Steinbrenner said this after the 1982 season, Reggie's first with the Angels, when he led the American League with 39 home runs. Steinbrenner might have changed his mind later, as Jackson's performance fell off badly in 1983 and '84 (before rebounding in '85). Who knows. Charlie Lau might have been right.

Jackson also talks about his decision to go into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee rather than an Oakland A; he did, after all, play quite a few more seasons with the A's. What I didn't realize until I looked him up: Reggie also played more games with the Angels than with the Yankees.

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