The Time Reggie Jackson Got His Ass Whooped In The Clubhouse By A Teammate
March 7, 2017 - Picnic Time
The following is excerpted from Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic: Reggie, Rollie, Catfish, and Charlie Finley’s Swingin’ A’s, by Jason Turbow. The book is accessible now on Amazon. Jason will be fasten us after currently to take your questions, and discuss about a book.
It was late May when a A’s reached Arlington Stadium, a new home of a Texas Rangers, creatively relocated from Washington, DC, and things were terrific. With Vida recently back, Oakland was 23-11, dual games adult in a American League West. It was a start of a 14-game highway trip, and as players filtered into a hall they began to settle into their transport routines. The team’s pass lists sat atop a cruise list during a distant side of a room: a blue piece for players to leave tickets for family members (the improved seats), and a white piece for friends. Reggie Jackson hovered above them, eyes squinting in scrutiny, until one name in sold held his eye. “Berman?” he asked, perusing a blue list. “Who put down for these?” Per Rangers policy, players were authorised 4 seats from a blue list and usually dual from a white, so initial baseman Mike Epstein had used his family passes for friends of his father—the delightfully named Sherman Berman and family—to safeguard that they sat together. This was not surprising practice.
“I did,” pronounced a slugger, “and it’s nothing of your business.”
“I’m appointing it my business,” replied Jackson.
Epstein had arrived in a center of a 1971 season, along with reliever Darold Knowles, around a trade with Washington. The six-foot-three, 230-pounder had strike 30 home runs for a Senators in 1969, though shortly afterward fell into crew use, during that time he was increasingly described as temperamental. (“Moodiness,” Epstein rationalized in response, “is an tusk of honour in a person.”) Still, he was usually what a A’s needed, slugging 18 home runs in 104 games after entrance over, and apropos a tack in a heart of their order. Now he was in a stare-down with a team’s biggest star. “Don’t buy some-more than we can handle,” Epstein warned.
Years’ value of vicinity enabled a players who came adult with Jackson—Duncan, Rudi, Bando—to compute his confrontational, bark-not-bite inlet from something indeed nefarious. For guys like Epstein who were new to a team, however, such distinctions were not always so easy.
Most of a players had usually usually arrived during a ballpark and were still sauce when a sell took place. Watching a brewing quarrel warily, Joe Rudi was a initial to siren up. “Back off,” he sternly warned Reggie. “Don’t disaster with him.”
Reggie did not behind off. “Those are family tickets, and there ain’t no Jews in Texas,” he said, invoking Epstein’s Semitic heritage. With that, he grabbed a coop and crossed out a names, one by one. Epstein, a former fullback on a Cal football team, flew off his chair as if during a rebellious dummy. Reggie had no chance. “This was not a standard ball fight,” removed Ken Holtzman, who watched it go down from his circuitously locker. “This was a quarrel fight.”
Epstein threw Jackson to a floor, straddling him and peppering him with punches. When he grabbed Reggie by a throat and began choking him, roving secretary Tom Corwin raced to get Dick Williams, and players jumped adult to intercede. First to a ravel was Gene Tenace, frequency a petite figure, who found himself wholly incompetent to nudge a raging behemoth. “Reggie’s eyes are spinning around in his conduct and we think, this ain’t working,” pronounced Tenace, looking back. “I’ve got to get his hands off of Reggie. How am we going to do that?” Eventually a catcher wrapped his forearm around Epstein’s windpipe and, with full force, pulled. Epstein fell behind onto Tenace, promulgation both group acrobatics to a floor. With all 3 players on a ground, Williams detonate into a room.
“When Dick came out, it contingency have looked like Mike and we were holding out Reggie,” removed Tenace. “Reggie’s laying over there on a floor, and Mike is laying on my chest. I’m tired from pulling this stinking animal off of Reggie, and afterwards all of a remarkable here comes Dick, and Dick’s screaming during me and Mike. I’m going, ‘Why is he screaming during me?’”
Tenace’s response—“Man, if we wasn’t here we competence not have a right fielder”—bought him small goodwill. Williams systematic all 3 players into his office. Reggie—“cross-eyed and half out of it,” according to Tenace—took one of dual chairs, Epstein a other. Tenace leaned opposite a wall. When Williams began to yell, a catcher piped up.
“Hey, Skip, wait a second,” he said. “You’ve got this all wrong. First of all . . .”
Williams wanted no partial of it. “Shut up!” he shouted. “I’ll ask a questions!”
By that indicate a whole group had collected outward a sealed bureau door, perplexing to locate snippets of conversation. The manager’s anger—a accost of proclamations, curses, and threats—was destined essentially during Tenace and Epstein, until Epstein interrupted. “Gene is right,” he said. “He’s a one who got me off of Reggie. He wasn’t even involved.”
Williams eyed Tenace warily. “Get your donkey out of here, Geno,” he spat.
Never one to skip an opening, Tenace piped up. “You certain we wish me to leave we in here with these dual guys?” he grinned.
“Get your donkey out of here, Geno!” Williams screamed.
When Tenace non-stop a bureau door, he found himself nose to nose with half a roster. “Screw it,” he suspicion to himself. “If something else goes down, they’ll take caring of it.”
Eventually, Williams talked Epstein and Jackson into similar that they could hatred any other though murdering any other. Clubhouse opinion, meanwhile, was divided. Those who came adult with Jackson accepted a sweetmeat of his personality, though some of a younger players were reduction forgiving. As Hunter walked by a spin after in a day, rookie George Hendrick, carrying a soak, called him over. “Who a ruin grabbed Epstein and pennyless adult a fight?” he asked, indignant during a intervention. “I wanted to see Epstein flog a shit out of Reggie.”
Drama or no, on withdrawal Texas, Oakland won 9 of 10 games. If anything, a quarrel solidified their ability to get strength from strife, and served to illustrate that no matter how most a players competence disgust one another, there was always one man in a equation they loathed even more. Enter Finley.
The Owner had enjoined Reggie in steady battles of will ever given a slugger reached a large leagues in 1967. Now, however, he astounded many by holding Jackson’s side. Maybe it was that notwithstanding Reggie’s faults he was still Finley’s guy—drafted and lifted and nurtured into stardom by a Owner—while Epstein was an outsider. Or maybe Finley simply wanted to mangle somebody new. Before a following day’s diversion he got Epstein on a phone and cut to a chase. “Who a fuck do we consider we are, violence adult my star player?” he shouted.
“Excuse me?” pronounced Epstein.
“I traded for you,” Finley said. “You’re not one of my players. we could get we behind to Washington usually as quick as a phone call. You’re a apple that’s going to spoil a bunch. You’re ruining this team!”
Epstein was uncowed. “You’ve got it reversed,” he said. “The man who’s a problem is a man that we knocked out on a floor. we did we a favor.” Then he cut to his possess chase: “Why don’t we usually trade me now?” he asked.
Finley was angry, though he was not stupid. Epstein was a pivotal cog. A trade could wait until after a season, Finley told a initial baseman, during that indicate he’d be good as gone.
After a season, he was.
From Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic. Copyright 2017, Jason Turbow. Excerpted with accede by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.