Sun, May 23, 2004 - Page 23 News List

Oakland retires old No. 9

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL Reggie Jackson allowed the Athletics to retire his old jersey after he put aside some sour grapes he was feeling toward the team's front office

AP , OAKLAND, CALIFORNIAAP, BOSTONAP, CHICAGO

Blue Jays shortstop Chris Gomez, left, tags out Jason Varitek, right, of the Red Sox, as first base umpire Phil Cuzzi watches the rundown between first and second base during the thrid inning at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, Friday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson rose to prominence with the Oakland Athletics, who will finally retire his No. 9 on Saturday -- 11 years after the New York Yankees gave him the honor by retiring his No. 44.

"It's probably overdue, but the A's didn't have anything to do with that," Jackson said this week. "That's me. There were some bad feelings with one of the executives. We didn't see eye to eye. I let it go.

"Here we are getting things on the right track. The A's have always treated me as good as you can treat a guy," he said.

The 58-year-old Jackson played his first nine seasons with the A's and also finished his career in Oakland in 1987.

His Hall of Fame plaque, however, features an "NY" on his cap and he now works for the Yankees as a special adviser.

Jackson admitted he's anxious for this weekend's fanfare to be finished, though he is looking forward to thanking the fans.

"I don't get out there in public too much," he said. "I'm very weird about it almost. When you're a player and get on the field, you're in your own fraternity, on safe ground. When you get on the field you're almost protected, in your element.

"I'm almost looking forward to it being over so I don't do anything wrong, don't do anything the wrong way. So I can run from it and hide. When I had my number retired in New York, you're embarrassed a little bit, whether you should be or shouldn't be."

Jackson made 14 All-Star games in his career, including six with the A's. He earned AL MVP and World Series MVP honors in 1973, hitting .293 with 32 homers and 117 RBIs that season.

He won three World Series titles with the A's and two with the Yankees, hitting 269 home runs with the A's and 144 with the Yankees. Jackson, who also spent one season with Baltimore and five with the California Angels, finished his career with 563 homers -- eighth on the all-time list.

Jackson becomes the third A's player to have his number retired, joining Rollie Fingers and Catfish Hunter. Several of Jackson's former teammates will be on hand for the ceremony before the A's play the Kansas City Royals.

Jackson fondly recalls his playing days with the A's, who won three straight World Series from 1972-1974 before owner Charlie Finley and the start of free agency broke up the team.

"It was a family group that started young and stuck together and played together," Jackson said. "Yes, I do think about the great teams. If we could have stuck together and there wasn't free agency, we could have won seven out of 10 years."

Many of his memorable moments came when he played in New York, including the personality conflicts with owner George Steinbrenner, a near-fight in the dugout with manager Billy Martin and his three-homer performance in the clinching Game 6 of the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, when he forever became "Mr. October."

Jackson likes working with the Yankees -- one of many endeavors he balances these days.

"I enjoy it very much. You stay close to the game," he said. "I have a need to be around the game because it was such a part of my life."

American League

Manny Ramirez's solo homer broke an eighth-inning tie and Pokey Reese drove in three runs Friday night to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 11-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

"I was thinking, `I want to hit one out because my [family] is here,'" he said.

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