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Readings: Reggie Jackson by NotGraphs’ Dayn Perry

Boston’s David Ortiz gets to second base with Reggie Jackson.

Recently, in these pages, I made a case for a way of discussing books in a manner conducive to NotGraphs. You can read those exact words, if you want. Alternatively, you can just believe me when I say that the basic idea is to share lightly annotated passages and ideas from interesting baseball-related books.

Reggie Jackson: The Life and Thunderous Career of Baseball’s Mr. October by Dayn Perry

On This Book and Its Familiar Author
It would undoubtedly represent a conflict of interest — and might, indeed, ring hollow — were I to submit a gushing review of my colleague Dayn Perry’s mostly new book about Reggie Jackson. On the other hand, it would also be an exercise in absurdity to expressly not mention how I’ve been reading and taking notes on that same book.

So, please, reader, accept these notes with the spirit in which they’re given — i.e. that of well-meaning impartiality.

• Jackson once said the words, “Sometimes I underestimate the magnitude of me.” In somewhat related news, he seems to’ve had a pretty healthy view of himself.

• Jackson was born and grew up in Wyncote, Pennsylvania — a town that, as Perry notes, was (and still is, I’ll assume) populated largely by German Jews. Many of Jackson’s friends and acquaintances in Wyncote were white and Jewish. As such, the question of race and ethnicity has been a curious one for Jackson — especially when, in 1967, for example, he was forced to play in a racially charged (and literally dangerous) Birmingham, Alabama, where Oakland’s Double-A team was located.

Dick Young, first of the New York Daily News and, later, the New York Post, was among the first sportswriters in the country to adopt a more a candid and, at times, confrontational style of writing — one focused, it seems, as much on players’ private lives as with their contributions on the field. While I’m sure Young’s influence has had positive effects on sporting journalism, I can’t help but think it has also largely informed the sort of sub-mental and opportunistic populism that defines Colin Cowherd’s “work.”

• Jackson was reputedly the first player since Wally Schang, in 1914, to wear a mustache in the regular season.

• In some ways, Jackson inherited the position of Baseball’s Outspoken Black Man from Dick Allen. Allen (also known as Richie) is a player who I’ve sorta known was good, but this book prompted me to investigate briefly how good. Regard, below, Allen’s career WAR relative to recent Hall of Fame inductees Andre Dawson and Jim Rice.