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It was Munson who coined Jackson’s immortal nickname — but he was being sarcastic.
After Billy Martin had Catfish Hunter start a game during the 1977 World Series after a month-long layoff with an injured arm, Jackson slammed him to the press, saying, “How do you make a decision like that?
Third baseman Nettles also cut Jackson down in the press. At one point, someone on the team — he never learned who — even placed a note in the pants pocket of his uniform that read, “Get your f—ing ass out of here.” But the cold indifference or bitter sentiment of his teammates paled compared to the blind hatred he felt from hard-drinking manager Billy Martin, a contempt that Jackson quickly returned.
“Graig Nettles had a very witty sense of humor, but it often had a very negative slant to it,” he writes. Jackson recounts a litany of Martin’s evils, including anti-Semitism Martin directed toward a player Jackson doesn’t name but who is clearly Yankee pitcher Ken Holtzman.
I’m not gonna fight your fights,” then added, “I hit Sample in the head, I could kill him.” Martin replied, “I don’t give a s–t if you do kill him! From then on, Goose and Billy had no relationship.” His criticisms of Martin extend past personal failings to his strategic acumen, with Jackson claiming that Martin destroyed the arms of his pitchers wherever he managed, citing Cy Young winners and Yankee teammates Hunter and Lyle as two who were never the same after Martin thoughtlessly overused them.“He liked to say, ‘The best thing about playing for the Yankees is you get to see Reggie Jackson play every day. “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. “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.’ ” Jackson also cites Martin’s flat-out racism toward him.The worst thing about playing for the Yankees is you get to see Reggie Jackson play every day.’” Relationships with many of his teammates remained sour, and he notes that of the team’s black players, only Willie Randolph reached out. During a meeting general manager Gabe Paul arranged to settle a dispute between the two, Jackson says that Martin showed up a half-hour late, with alcohol on his breath, at a.m.“I know I never saw Casey Stengel when I was being scouted,” writes Jackson.“And how could you be in a ballpark and not know if Casey Stengel was there?