With the assistance of Baker (The Big Crowd, 2013, etc.), legendary slugger Jackson (Reggie: The Autobiography, 1984, etc.) attempts to set the record straight about the tumultuous World Series–winning New York Yankees of 1977 and 1978.
When he signed with the Yankees in 1976, Jackson was already a star, having won two championships with the Oakland A’s and a league MVP award in 1973. He also had a reputation for speaking his mind in a way that did not always endear him to teammates and fans. None of this, however, prepared him for the cauldron that was the Yankees, run by manager Billy Martin and owner George Steinbrenner. Much has been written about this team, and Jackson announces early on that this book was born out of his outrage at how he was portrayed in the 2007 miniseries The Bronx Is Burning; indeed, the tone is often aggrieved as the author recounts the many injustices he faced along the way. There’s no denying he has a point: He was often treated unfairly by the press and his teammates and certainly by Martin, a volatile personality at the best of times, who never got over his resentment that Jackson was brought onto the team against his wishes. But whatever was behind the struggles—racism, resentment over his comments to the press, his superstar salary or other factors—Jackson does himself no favors by repetitively rehashing these old wounds, though he does at least acknowledge partial responsibility for some of them. Resentment aside, the author remains a fascinating character who offers plenty of insight into the game as it was played then and now. No baseball fan can deny the greatness of Jackson’s magical three consecutive first-pitch home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, and many will enjoy reliving the moment through his eyes.
Readers not put off by the taste of sour grapes will find much of interest here, from the unique mind of one of baseball’s most enigmatic stars and greatest clutch performers.