- Taschenbuch: 320 Seiten
- Verlag: Anchor (23. September 2014)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0307476804
- ISBN-13: 978-0307476807
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,1 x 1,6 x 20,3 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
Becoming Mr. October (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 23. September 2014
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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
REGGIE JACKSON was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993. He hit 563 home runs and drove in 1,702 runs over the course of his twenty-one-year career. He played three World Series–winning seasons with the Oakland Athletics and two with the New York Yankees. He is a special adviser to the Yankees.
KEVIN BAKER is the prize-winning author of the historical novels Dreamland, Paradise Alley, and Strivers Row; the baseball novel Sometimes You See It Coming; and, most recently, The Big Crowd. He served as chief historical researcher for the nonfiction bestseller The American Century. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and Harper’s Magazine, among other publications.
Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.
Bull in the Ring
I never intended to play professional baseball.
After high school, I had gone down to Arizona State on a football scholarship, playing for Frank Kush, who was a great coach. He knew my high school football coach, John Kracsun, from the Pittsburgh area, and Kracsun told him I would be a good college player.
I was a much better football player than I was a baseball player at the time. I was maybe a better basketball player, too. I could do everything. I was a great shooter, played guard, but also jumped some center, even though we had a guy, Alan Tractenberg, who was six eight while I was five eleven. I was a great jumper, a high flier.
In football, I was a running back on offense and a safety on defense. There were several schools interested in recruiting me—Syracuse, Penn State. Oklahoma—but you had to be in at ten at night, for your own safety. Duke—but I was a little afraid to go to school in the South then; I didn’t know what to expect at the time. I didn’t want to be the first black player to go anywhere. Notre Dame and Michigan were interested in me, but I wanted to play baseball, too, and they were schools in cold-weather climates, where you couldn’t get enough time in to play much baseball.
John Kracsun was a father figure to me, so I listened to him. I saw Coach Kush much the same way. I was eighteen years old, but Frank Kush was going to make me a man. Football started at Camp Tontozona, up in the hills near a little town called Payson. We went there for two weeks in mid-August, and it got up to 105 degrees during the day, five thousand feet above sea level, but cooled at night.
We had two workouts a day. Lots of running, mostly sprints. If you couldn’t make it, or you were dragging, you had to run “Mount Kush” at the end of the workout, which was this rocky hill, this Prudential rock, where you’d be sliding, slipping, and falling. Lots of one-on-one drills, to see who’s tougher than the next guy.
We had this drill called “bull in the ring.” There would be a big circle of the entire team, anywhere from eighty to ninety guys, out there in full pads and helmets, with numbers on the jerseys. To test our mettle and see who was tough enough to play Frank Kush football, Coach Kush would call out a guy’s number. If you were the “bull” in the circle, another player would run at you full speed. You had to find out where he was coming from—if he was behind you or on one side—and defend yourself in a one-on-one, head-on crash.
I felt like I was in the middle more than anybody, and I wasn’t the best at it. The best at it was a guy named Curley Culp, who was the NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion when he was a freshman in college and who would go on to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a great, great defensive lineman with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Curley and I bunked together at camp. His number got called when I was in the circle, and he took it easy on me. Coach Kush said, “Oh, taking care of your buddy, huh? Okay, you become ‘bull in the ring’!” Curley broke the next guy’s face mask and helmet, and that ended the drill.
In those days, you couldn’t play varsity ball as a freshman. I played on the freshman team, played both ways as a safety and a running back and did well. I remember I gained a lot of yards running behind Curley Culp. But I wanted to play baseball, and my dad wanted me to play, too; he had been a professional player with some of the old Negro Leagues clubs.
I had been a center fielder, a first baseman, and a pitcher in high school. At the plate I hit about .500. I had one of the best arms on the team, so I pitched a lot, but I threw a lot of curveballs and ended up hurting my arm. I did pitch a couple no-hitters. I could pitch a no-hitter, strike out fifteen—and usually walk ten or twelve.
When he came to recruit me, I asked Coach Kush if I could play baseball as well. That would be almost unheard of today, a top recruit playing two sports, but he told me I could play baseball as well as football if I kept up a B average, and I had a 3.0. Freshman year at Arizona State, spring of 1965, we had spring football practice, but the baseball season was starting at the same time. A couple of guys in my dormitory, Joe Paulson and Jeff Pentland, who became a major-league hitting coach for many years, bet me that I couldn’t make the baseball team.
Much as I wanted to play, I was leery about going out for the team, because the baseball coach was Bobby Winkles. Winkles was a legend, but he was from Arkansas, and Arizona State had never had a black player on its baseball team. They’d had one guy, Sterling Slaughter, who was a mulatto and later pitched for the Cubs, but he really wasn’t recognized as a black player. But Joe and Jeff bet me $5 I couldn’t make the team, and $5 was a lot of money to us then. After football practice one day, I went over to the baseball field and told Coach Winkles, “Boy, I’d like to try out one day.”
Winkles had already heard from the major-league scouts who watched me in high school that I had really good tools, and he said in his southern drawl, “Well, come over here and take some batting practice.” I still had my football gear on at the time. I was wearing a pair of Riddell football shoes, had my football pants on still, my shoulder pads and shirt. I was still wearing my helmet. But he said, “Take some batting practice,” so I just took off my shoulder pads, set my football helmet down, put on a baseball helmet, and started swinging. After a couple pop-ups and grounders, I started hitting line drives and fly balls over the fence.
Bobby Winkles said, “Would you like to try out for the team?” And I said, “I would love to”—and thought of course of my $5 payday. It also meant I got to miss Frank Kush’s spring football practice, which was a big plus!
I played on the freshman team, and everything went fine. We had ten games, all of them at home or within a day-trip away. The next year, in the spring of 1966, I was on the varsity. We played a fifty-game schedule and traveled around the Western Athletic Conference to the states in that region. The team had decided to have a vote, to see who would room with me when they traveled. I had to wait outside. When I look back on that, it just made me feel so small, so insignificant. I don’t know how many people actually objected to me, but it was a different thing for the team, having a black player, even in 1966—nineteen years after Jackie Robinson broke the color line in major-league baseball.
It never went to a vote, because the captain of the team, Jan Kleinman, said, “I’ll room with Reggie, no worries.”
Jan and I are friends to this day, and we got along very well. Later, after he went to play in the Phillies’ organization, I roomed with a country kid from Kansas named Glenn Smith, and we had a blast together. Glenn was just a real salt-of-the-earth person with a great midwestern twang who went on to play in the Minnesota Twins’ system for a few years. He used to call me a “yearling”—said I ran fast like a yearling deer—and we had some great times together.
We ended up having eight players from that squad who were drafted by major-league teams, and four of them made it to the show: Al Schmelz and Duffy Dyer, who played with the Mets, and Rick Monday, who was the top prospect in the country, and Sal Bando—both guys I would play a...
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Mr. October should be ashamed of this book as it's style and lack of flow expose him in a very dim intellectual light.
I was disappointed by the book and the story. The Bronx is Burning, a book Reggie hates, does a much better job telling this story.
Save yourself from this egotistical piece of trash. I took mine back to the bookstore.