In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
Reggie Jackson cements himself as Mr. October as he leads the New York Yankees to their first World Series Championship in 15 years. The Yankees win the World Series in six games over the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the finale, Jackson leads the way with three home runs off three different pitchers on three consecutive pitches as the Yankees win 8-4 in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium.
It was a season of tumult and drama for the New York Yankees and most of it centered around Reggie Jackson and their volatile manager Billy Martin. The Yankees signed Jackson after being swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the 1976 World Series. Reggie was the ire of his teammates and manager right from the start when he declared, “He was the straw that stirred the drink” in Spring Training. Added into the mix was Owner George Steinbrenner was an omnipresent tyrant to Yankees management, seemingly ready to fire Martin after every bad loss. Through it, all the Yankees posted a record of 100-62 and beat the Kanas City Royals in a hard fought five game series in the ALCS.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, meanwhile reached the World Series in Tommy Lasorda’s first year at the helm, ending the Reds two-year championship reign by winning the Western Division with a record of 98-64, sparked by four 30 homer run hitters, Steve Garvey, Reggie Smith, Ron Cey and Dusty Baker. The Dodgers then went on to beat the Philadelphia three-games-to-one in the NLCS to reach the Fall Classic.
In the opener at Yankee Stadium, Don Gullett got the start for New York, while Don Sutton started for the Dodgers. Gullett got off to a rough start as he allowed two runs in the first inning, sparked by a triple off the bat of Bill Russell. The Yankees answered with a RBI single by Chris Chambliss in the bottom of the first, while Willie Randolph tied the game with a sixth-inning home run. In the eighth inning, the Yankees took the lead with a RBI double by Thurman Munson, while in the ninth Lee Lacy tied the game 3-3 with a RBI single off Yankees closer Sparky Lyle. The game would remain tied until the 12th inning when Randolph greeted Rick Rhoden with a leadoff double and came around to score on a base hit by Paul Blair to give the Yankees a 4-3 win in Game 1. The Dodgers would rebound with a 6-1 win in Game 2, as Ron Cey, Steve Yeager, Reggie Smith and Steve Garvey all had home runs, as Catfish Hunter struggled with a sore shoulder while Burt Hooton went the distance for the win.
Game 3 at Dodger Stadium, saw the Yankees jump out to an early 3-0 lead against Tommy John, as Thurman Munson provided the big blow with a RBI double, which led to RBI singles from Reggie Jackson and Lou Piniella. The Dodgers answered with a three-run home run by Dusty Baker off Mike Torrez in the third inning, but before the crowd in L.A. settled back in their seats the Yankees had regained the lead as Graig Nettles led off and scored in the fourth inning. Chris Chambliss added a RBI single in the fifth inning, as the Torrez went the distance in a 5-3 win. The Yankees grabbed an early lead again in Game 4, as Jackson led off the second inning with a double and scored on a RBI single by Piniella. Chambliss followed with a double as Graig Nettles and Bucky Dent drove home the next two runs to make it 3-0. The Dodgers answered in the third with a two-run home run off the bat of Davey Lopes but got no closer as Ron Guidry went the distance in a 4-2 win, as Reggie Jackson hit his first home run of the series in the sixth inning. Down 3-1 in the series, the Dodgers would not go down without a fight, as they brought out the heavy lumber in Game 5, winning 10-4 as Steve Yeager provided the big blow with a three-run blast against Don Gullett in the fourth inning. The Yankees lone bright spot came in the eighth inning when Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson hit back-to-back home runs off Don Sutton who went the distance to earn the win.
With Mike Torrez opposing Burt Hooton, the Yankees looked to close out the series at home in Game 6. The Dodgers continued to fight hard, taking an early lead on a triple by Steve Garvey in the first inning. In the second inning, Reggie Jackson led off with a walk and scored on a two-run home run by Chris Chambliss to tie the game. Jackson, who hit a home run on the first pitch he saw by Don Sutton in the eighth inning of Game 5, was clearly seeing the ball and ripping every pitch he saw as he was issued a four-pitch walk to lead off the inning. Los Angeles regained the lead on a solo home run by Reggie Smith in the third inning, but in the fourth it was Reggie Jackson providing the go-ahead blast for the Yankees taking the first pitch he saw from Hooton out to right field to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead as Thurman Munson who led off with a single scored in front. The Yankees added a sac-fly by Lou Piniella in the fourth to make 5-3. One inning later, facing reliever Elias Sosa, with Mickey Rivers on board, Jackson hit a screaming liner into the right-field stands on the first pitch he saw to make it 7-3 in favor of New York. In the eighth inning, Reggie Jackson led off against knuckleballer Charlie Hough and crushed the first pitch he saw to deep center field, into the black seats 475 feet away to make it 8-3. As the crowd chanted “Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie”, Jackson to a slow trot around the bases and later gave the fans a big curtain call. The Dodgers would scratch out a run in the ninth, as Torrez went the distance for his second win of the series as the Yankees won their 21st World Championship.
For the World Series, Reggie Jackson was a one-man wrecking crew, earning MVP honors. In six games, Jackson batted .450, with five home runs and eight RBI, with ten runs scored, as he delivered hits in 9-of-20 at-bats, with an OPS of 1.792. Jackson was the first player not named Babe Ruth to hit three home runs in a World Series game. Reggie Jackson also became the first player to win a World Series MVP with two different teams having previously won with the Oakland Athletics in 1973.