Book Review: Becoming Mr. October

author: Reggie Jackson / Kevin Baker  published: 2013 / pages: 322

book summary: Reggie Jackson talks about his rise to fame in Oakland, winning three World Series championships, before moving to New York to cement his status as “Mr. October.” 

Love him or hate him, Reggie Jackson is a baseball icon, one of the greatest. His personality alone deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame, but his heroic play on the field earned him his plaque in Cooperstown. He grew up in Pennsylvania and worked hard to make it to the Major League, especially during a time when black players were still given the cold shoulder and always looked at differently. What I found interesting was the struggle he faced growing up, progressing through the minor leagues, and eventually being a star. Even though this story is told from his perspective, it was fascinating to hear the setbacks he faced every day at home, in the dugout and the press. He may deny this or that, may put his spin on events, but he biggest claim is he always told the truth.

Despite winning five championships, one league MVP award, and two World Series MVP awards, Jackson will always be remembered for one magical night. During Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Reggie became just the second player ever to hit three home runs in a game. The tale of how he got there and how things went for him after that historical night was worth writing a book about. Like most celebrities of any era, the bigger you get, the more drama you attract. Reggie lived for the spotlight, and his ego was one of the biggest the game’s ever seen. So no matter what he did good or bad, he was always misquoted or his playing time was mishandled, just because. As I said, this was told from his point of view, but history shows that during his time with the New York Yankees, they were a four-alarm fire most days. He just got paid the most and was the de facto face of the franchise, so he took most of the heat.

The beautiful part of his story is that he returned to the Yankees and now serves in a Special Advisory role. The book and his story end shortly after the 1978 season and don’t focus on much of his playing days in California with the Angels and his return to Oakland in 1987. He stuck to his most significant moments, without glutting or bragging about his accomplishments. He just explained it as it was and didn’t hold back on his side of the story.

Jackson retired before I was old enough to remember anything about sports. As an avid baseball fan, I have grown to know who he was and what he accomplished. Now and then I get a Reggie Jackson reprint baseball card and enjoy the surprise. He was a central figure in one of the wildest periods in Yankees history. As I continue to explore the 1977-78 baseball seasons through various books, it is a fun journey down memory lane with these iconic players all playing a significant role in the story.

I was concerned the book would be extremely biased and paint a different picture than what the history books say, but it didn’t. I thought it was a better read on those glory years and think if you admire Jackson, you will pick up a copy. 7/10

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