OAKLAND, Calif.--Whatever animosity that once existed between Reggie Jackson and the A's organization is ancient history, so much so that the Hall of Fame outfielder admitted he is now collecting memorabilia from his days in green and gold.
"I just bought a Reggie Jackson shirt from 1974, I think I paid $11,000 or $12,000 for it, and I just got another from '71," Jackson said. "So I'm buying my shirts back. The Oakland ones are special."
Jackson was all smiles and jocularity at the Coliseum on Saturday night as he joined 16 former teammates, plus the wives of late pitchers Catfish Hunter and Paul Lindblad, in an elaborate and well received red carpet pregame ceremony honoring the 1974 World Series champions.
Jackson received arguably the loudest cheer from the sellout crowd of 35,067.
After being introduced, players from the '74 team took their respective positions with current members of the A's. Jackson joined Josh Reddick in right field, repeatedly waving to the crowd and at one point throwing a ball into the stands. He then joined Gene Tenace and Rollie Fingers--fellow World Series MVPs during their three-year title run (1972-74) -- to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Jackson, now 68, skipped a number of previous reunions of the great early '70s A's teams but has made the last two. It has smoothed over a lot of the bad vibe that percolated for a number of years, including when Jackson entered the Hall of Fame as a New York Yankee in 1992.
Today, even while still a special adviser to the Yankees, he is trying to balance his two primary worlds of his illustrious career more evenly.
"I had some issues here, stuff like that," Jackson said. "They're patched up and all gone now and I love coming here and being with the Oakland people. Lew Wolff has been very kind to me whenever I've been here, and Billy Beane has been great with me. Plus, I always love seeing Rickey (Henderson). If I wasn't working for the Yankees, I'd be working here for the A's."
Jackson was asked the particularly touchy question of which teams were better, those championship A's teams he played for or his later Yankees title teams. He gave a slight edge to the Oakland clubs and added he probably accomplished more here than in New York.
"I've been asked the question before, and I probably think we could have won five or six if we would have stayed together 10 years," he said. "I won three World Series here, I played eight years, nine counting when I came back. I hit more home runs than I did over there, but I was here longer.
"I don't know, I don't like to compare them. If I had to say who would beat who, I'd probably say the A's. I thought we were very well balanced. I thought we had better pitching. I don't know if the players were better, but we were so good because we played together throughout the minor leagues. Everybody knew where the other guy was going to be."
Jackson, who lives in the Monterey area and maintained he roots for both the A's and Giants, also weighed in on the Oakland ballpark situation.
"I'd love to see something in the Jack London (Square) area, so it was centralized and easy to get to," he said "If they go down to Fremont or something like that, I won't be upset because they'll still be in the East Bay. But certainly they need a new facility, I think it's long overdue.
"Hopefully they can make peace with the Giants and that territorial rights stuff that plays into it. But I'd love to see them stay here."
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