"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

BGS: The Straw That Stirs the Drink

reggie jackson

Robert Ward’s infamous 1977 Sport magazine story: “Reggie Jackson in No-Man’s Land”:

“You know,” he says, “this team… it all flows from me. I’ve got to keep it all going. I’m the straw that stirs the drink. It all comes back to me. Maybe I should say me and Munson… but really he doesn’t enter into it. He’s being so damned insecure about the whole thing. I’ve overheard him talking about me.”

“You mean he talks loud to make sure you can hear him?”

“Yeah. Like that. I’ll hear him telling some other writer that he wants it to be known that he’s the captain of the team, that he knows what’s best. Stuff like that. And when anybody knocks me, he’ll laugh real loud so I can hear it….”

Reggie looks down at Ford’s sweater. Perhaps he is wishing the present Yankees could have something like Ford and Martin and Mantle had. Community. Brotherhood. Real friendship.

“Maybe you ought to just go to Munson,” I suggest. “Talk it out right up front.”

But Reggie shakes his head.

“No,” he says. “He’s not ready for it yet. He doesn’t even know he feels like he does. He isn’t aware of it yet.”

“You mean if you went and tried to be open and honest about he’d deny it.”

Jackson nods his head. “Yeah. He’d say, ‘What? I’m not jealous. There aren’t any problems.’ He’d try to cover up, but he ought to know he can’t cover up anything from me. Man, there is no way…. I can read these guys. No, I’ll wait, and eventually he’ll be whipped. There will come that moment when he really knows I’ve won… and he’ll want to hear everything is all right… and then I’ll go to him, and we will get it right.

Reggie makes a fist, and clutches Ford’s sweater: “You see, that is the way I am. I’m a leader, and I can’t lie down… but ‘leader’ isn’t the right word… it’s a matter of PRESENCE… Let me put it this way: no team I am on will ever be humiliated the way the Yankees were by the Reds in the World Series! That’s why Munson can’t intimidate me. Nobody can. You can’t psych me. You take me one-on-one in the pit, and I’ll whip you…. It’s an attitude, really… It’s the way the manager looks at you when you come into the room… It’s the way the coaches and the batboy look at you… The way your name trickles through the crowd when you wait in the batter’s box… It’s all that… The way the Yankees were humiliated by the Reds? You think that doesn’t bother Billy Martin? He’s no fool. He’s smart. Very smart. And he’s a winner. Munson’s tough, too. He is a winner, but there is just nobody who can do for a club what I can do… There is nobody who can put meat in the seats [fans in the stands] the way I can. That’s just the way it is… Munson thinks he can be the straw that stirs the drink, but he can only stir it bad.”


1 Ben   ~  Mar 26, 2015 8:45 am

This is amazing. I just wish more athletes that felt this way would just come out and throw down like this. So awesome, what a loon.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Mar 26, 2015 8:54 am

Yeah, and he spoke to Ward during spring training but the story wasn't published until June. By that time, things had settled a little bit between Buck Tater and his teammates but then the article came out. I remember reading that Munson carried around a copy of the magazine saying something like, "I can understand him ripping me for a paragraph but not 3 fucking pages."

Folks like to invoke The Bronx Zoo occasionally but even with Alex Rodriguez's melodrama, they ain't anywhere near the Bronx Zoo.

Oh, and by the way, I also sometimes see people refer to George as Big Stein. Is that a Seinfeld thing or something? I never, ever heard that nickname for the Boss growing up.

3 rbj   ~  Mar 26, 2015 9:29 am

[2] I don't recall any Bill Gallo cartoon referencing Big Stein. Though I do have to plead college killing numerous brain cells.

Someone needs to catalogue his Steinbrenner cartoons.

Rain turned to snow this morning. Sticking snow.

4 RagingTartabull   ~  Mar 26, 2015 10:46 am

(2) I think the story was Piniella (or someone) saying to Munson "Maybe he was misquoted," and Thurman responding "For 3 fucking pages?!"

Either way this interview is a historical document of amazing importance, this is great

5 Chyll Will   ~  Mar 26, 2015 10:57 am

[2] Yes, that was a Seinfeld gag. Steinbrenner (voiced by Larry David) referred to himself as "Big Stein"; wouldn't be surprised if that was an ad-lib that turned into a running joke. Folks take that show way too seriously...

6 Alex Belth   ~  Mar 26, 2015 12:01 pm

4) That's right. Good call. Ed Linn's book, "Steinbrenner's Yankees" has a good recap of the story.

5) I never dug that show, man. I've enjoyed it more in re-runs and enjoy some of the actors but when it was on it just seemed like the most uptight, white-bread, Yuppie show. I couldn't relate to those people. It's tame now in comparison with "Curb" and other comedies.

7 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Mar 26, 2015 5:58 pm

[6] Seinfeld changed everything for sitcoms though, it made everything before it seem sentimental and almost unwatchable. And George Costanza one of the best characters ever!

8 Alex Belth   ~  Mar 27, 2015 8:33 am

There were unsentimental sit coms before Seinfield--Fernwood Tonight and Buffalo Bill come to mind, critical darlings with a small audience.

It may have changed the nature of what came after because of it's massive success. I don't know enough about the field to make that call but it doesn't sound outrageous. Completely disagree that it made everything before it sentimental and almost unwatchable. But that's maybe because I find Seinfeld--that great caucasian New York show--almost unwatchable.

I'll give it to you, though, Costanza and Kramer are fun. I think Michael Richards--who stole from the best and had elements of Reverend Jim, Harpo Marx and especially Danny Kaye--was inspired.

9 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Mar 29, 2015 8:38 pm

[2] I never heard it growing up either.

10 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Mar 29, 2015 8:41 pm

I never liked Seinfeld either and with the advent of laugh-track free comedy I've often wondered if I'd have appreciated the show/humor had it run without a laugh track.

11 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Mar 29, 2015 8:42 pm

(I think Julia Louis-Dreyfus' work in VEEP is nothing short of genius, incidentally.)

12 Boatzilla   ~  Mar 30, 2015 12:51 am

[8] Don't forget Art Carney. Richards basically aped him. Nobody ever moved like

Big Stein is no Seinfeld creation, if memory serves. It was in the press when I was a kid. I remember it….unless I've "post remembered it". I also remember the following, from the Post or News:
Mr. Bad Stench

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