On June 18, 1978, my father treated me to my first New York Yankees baseball game. We sat in the upper deck. It was Bat Day, and I could not wait to see Reggie Jackson play. He put on an incredible show during batting practice, hitting one baseball out of Yankee Stadium and onto River Avenue in the Bronx. At least that is how I remember it. I was eight years old. Unfortunately, his performance in the game was not as exciting. He went 0-4, striking out four times.
Four years ago, I treated my daughter to Old-Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium for her birthday. We sat behind home plate. Reggie Jackson made up for his four strikeouts on that Bat Day many years ago. I finally saw him get a base hit. My daughter and I still laugh about that personal Reggie Jackson story of mine.
When I finally had an opportunity to meet Reggie Jackson, I wanted it to be a memorable experience. More importantly, I wanted it to be a positive experience. I had heard many negative stories about his disposition. I was determined to prove the stories false.
I purchased a New York Yankees #44 baseball jersey, and I made plans for him to create a masterpiece. I purchased one autograph and five inscriptions. I prepared four of the inscriptions on index cards. My plan was to place each index card in front of him, and to verbally say what I wanted him to inscribe. I was one of the first people on line, so I was hoping that things would proceed smoothly.
Reggie Jackson autographing my New York Yankees #44 baseball jersey.
I placed the baseball jersey on the table in front of him, and I asked him to please sign his name and “Mr. October” across the middle part of both “4s”. All was well up to that point. Then I placed the first index card in front of him. It had written on it '77 WS MVP. I verbally said it as well, and he signed it perfectly. The second index card had written on it HOF '93. Again, no problem. The third index card had written on it 3 WS HR 10-18-77. Perfect. Now for the fourth and final index card. It had written on it 5X YANKEES ALL-STAR. That was when things went terribly wrong.
Reggie Jackson had misheard what I had said, and instead of signing 5X YANKEES ALL-STAR, he signed 5X EX YANKE AL ALL STAR. Yes, he even spelled YANKEES incorrectly.
The final masterpiece. Notice the inscription error on the second "4". The index card had written on it 5X YANKEES ALL-STAR. Reggie Jackson seems not to have looked at the index card, and clearly misunderstood what I said. It is certainly an interesting conversation piece.
Reggie Jackson smiled, rotated his arm and rubbed his shoulder. He then handed the jersey back to me with great care. I thanked him, and I walked away.
I was told that I could ask him to correct the mistake. I decided to leave it as it was. It would certainly make an interesting conversation piece. To this day, I wonder if he did it on purpose. I suppose that would depend on a person’s point of view about my favorite childhood Yankee. I refuse to believe that he did it on purpose. What do you believe?