Reggie Jackson Says Mets Decision Not To Draft Him Was Based On Race
Looks like Reggie Jackson and his soon to be released auto-biography will be hitting the ground running as the Hall of Famer leaves no stones uncovered as he seeks to dispel some of the bad raps against him through his career as a player.
The New York Post shared an exclusive excerpt from the book in which Jackson accuses the Mets of racism for opting to select Steve Chilcott instead of him with the first pick in the 1966 MLB Draft.
Arizona State standout Reggie Jackson was considered the best amateur ballplayer in the country heading into the 1966 Major League Baseball draft. The team picking first that year was the lowly, awful New York Mets.
Jackson recalls how his coach at Arizona State, Bobby Winkles, broke the bad news.
“A day or two before the draft, Bobby Winkles sat me down and told me, ‘You’re probably not gonna be the No. 1 pick. You’re dating a Mexican girl, and the Mets think you will be a problem,’ ” Jackson writes. “ ‘They think you’ll be a social problem because you are dating out of your race.’ ”
Jackson was especially baffled because he’s part Hispanic — his grandmother is from Puerto Rico and his middle name is Martinez. But that didn’t matter, even to the perennial cellar-dwelling Mets.
“No, you’re colored, and they don’t want that,” Winkles said.
Jackson would get even of course in 1973, when the Oakland A’s beat the Mets in the World Series that season – Jackson would be named the World Series MVP.
Here’s some more from the Post article:
He blamed the Mets’ infamous draft-day decision on Bob Scheffing, the team’s director of player development. According to Jackson, he was also the guy who would later trade Nolan Ryan. But Scheffing tried to pass the blame on to Casey Stengel, who was scouting for the team at the time.
“I know I never saw Casey Stengel when I was being scouted,” writes Jackson. “And how could you be in a ballpark and not know if Casey Stengel was there?”
Jackson wishes he could have been directly inspired by Mets’ veterans and managers of that era, including the late Gil Hodges, whose team won the 1969 World Series, and Yogi Berra, who managed the overachieving 1973 squad. “Unlike Billy Martin, Yogi didn’t need to be the star all the time,” he notes. “He already was the star.”
His desire to have been a Met comes off as almost romantic. “I think about that sometimes. I would’ve been coming up just as that team was finally improving. They had all those great arms: Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, Nolan Ryan, Tug McGraw. Oh boy!”
Safe to assume that the Mets may have had a dynasty run had they selected Jackson over Chilcott… But then again, who knows?
About the Author: Joe DeCaro
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.
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