Reggie Jackson, baseball, racism, MLB

Reggie Jackson Discusses Racist Treatment Received During Playing Days In Alabama

During a televised interview, the Yankee great talked about the racism he faced in his early playing days.

Major League Baseball celebrated Juneteenth by having a game on June 19 at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. During an interview with former baseball player Alex Rodriguez on the Fox Network, Yankee great Reggie Jackson was asked about his playing days at the ballpark and gave an emotional recollection about dealing with racism during that time.

The famed baseball field was home to the Negro League where many players, including Hall of Famers, Willie Mays, who was born in Birmingham, and Mobile’s own Hank Aaron starred before making it to the Major Leagues. Jackson stated that returning to Rickwood Field brought back memories of the type of racism that plagued the country in the 1960s.

“Coming back here is not easy. The racism that I (faced) here when I played here, the difficulty of going through different places that we traveled,” Jackson said. “Fortunately, I had a manager, and I had players on the team that helped me get through it. But I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. People said to me today and I spoke on it ‘Do you think you’re a better person, do you think you won, when you played here…’ And I said, you know, I would never want to do it again.”

He goes on to speak on some of the issues he had to deal with regarding racists targeting him whenever he was out in public — being called the N-word and having people refusing him service just because he was Black. He expressed some of the things he experienced during that time.

He also stated that if it wasn’t for his white friends, he would not have made it. He felt if he had succumbed to his emotions, he would have been killed.

“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. At the same time, had it not been for my white friends, had it not been for a white manager and Rudi, Fingers and Duncan, and Lee Meyers, I would never have made it. I was too physically violent. I was ready to physically fight some — I would have got killed here because I would have beat someone’s ass, and you would have saw me in an oak tree somewhere.”

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