Needling players on the opposing team and even your teammates is a cherished tradition among baseball players, and nobody can bust chops better than major leaguers. It’s how they stay sane during three-hour games and endless road trips during a 162-game season. And one of the best in the business was Mr. October, Reggie Jackson.
In honor of late October being World Series season, I thought I would share the story (and video) of the night I was on the receiving end of the famous Reggie Jackson needle during an interview we did last October at an SAP event in Half Moon Bay, California. And I deserved it!
Reggie had driven over from his home in Carmel to host a meet and greet session with our customers, who upon his arrival were listening to a talk by Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari and Steve Jobs’ first boss. We had already set up video equipment for me to do a sit-down interview with Nolan, so while we waited, I took the opportunity to ask Reggie for an interview. After some cajoling he agreed.
Just as we were getting ready to mike up Reggie, Nolan breezed in and said “I’m ready for my interview.” I knew his time was tight, since he was scheduled to host a roundtable discussion with some of our customers right after the break. So I asked Reggie to step aside and let Nolan go first. He graciously agreed and chatted with some of our staffers while I interviewed Nolan. (Spoiler alert 1: Reggie gets me back for this one).
When Nolan was done, Reggie came back and we started the interview. He spoke engagingly about playing for great managers like Tony LaRussa, Jim Leyland, Gene Mauch, and Dick Howser and described the tantrums of Earl Weaver and Billy Martin. All was well until I made the mistake of saying “You were well known back in the day as ‘Mr. October.’” (Spoiler alert 2: Reggie makes me pay the price for this gaffe. Let’s just say he didn’t quite appreciate my use of the past tense.)
I then asked him about Jackie Robinson and told him of my Brooklyn roots, of which he was incredulous. Somehow he thought I was from Yuma, Arizona. As I tried to wrap things up at the ten minute mark, Reggie took command of the interview and wielded the needle to great effect. All I could do was laugh, because he was right, all the while thinking to myself “this will make great TV.”
Take a look and let me know if you agree. Lastly, here’s a big “Thank You” to Reggie for being such a good sport.