When Ken Griffey Jr. gets into the Hall of Fame in 2016, he'll become the first first overall draft pick to be enshrined in Cooperstown. But, that distinction could've belonged to Reggie Jackson when he was inducted back in 1993…if you believe his claims.
Let me explain.
Jackson was expected to get selected number one back in 1966, but, instead, the New York Mets picked Steve Chilcott. Why? According to the former slugger…racism.
“A day or two before the draft, Bobby Winkles sat me down and told me, ‘You’re probably not gonna be the number one pick. You’re dating a Mexican girl, and the Mets think you will be a problem,’ ” Jackson writes in his forthcoming book Becoming Mr. October. “ ‘They think you’ll be a social problem because you are dating out of your race.’ ”
Pretty serious stuff that Jackson is throwing out there, but…it's not the first time this story has been told. It's also not the only bit of racism that the five-time World Series champ brings up in his tell-all book.
Some other stories sure to raise some hackles involved his former skipper Billy Martin.
Jackson claims that Martin showed up drunk to an 8:30am meeting with him and the team's then-general manager Gabe Paul, ordered Goose Gossage to throw at opponent's heads and ruined the arms of former Cy Young Award winners Catfish Hunter and Sparky Lyle by overusing them.
Oh, Jackson also contends that the five-time New York Yankees manager was not only a racist, but an anti-Semite.
“I was standing near the bat rack early in spring training, and I heard some of the worst anti-Semitic remarks and jokes directed at one of our own players. This went on far too often,” writes Jackson. “When this player was pitching and doing well, he was ‘the great lefty.’ When he wasn’t, it was the name of his ethnic group and religion, ‘the Jew.’ ”
Sounds like Becoming Mr. October will be a nice companion piece to both Lyle's memoir The Bronx Zoo and Jonathan Mahler's Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning.