Did Billy Martin have a problem with Ken Holtzman?
MSG will begin re-running ESPN's "Bronx is Burning" series at 9 p.m. Sunday night, with extensive supplementary interviews the network has dubbed the "Summer of '77."
Not surprisingly, Reggie Jackson's sitdown with his old friend and teammate Fran Healy produced some interesting material.
Like this on Billy Martin: "I thought our relationship would be better in '78, and I just dont really know what happened. I remember standing in the dugout in Fort Lauderdale and a group of players and Billy telling an anti-Semitic joke about Ken Holtzman.
"And it was the first couple days and I was getting ready to hit and I said, I wonder if they know I am standing here and they are talking about that and I am a minority? Why would they do that?'
"And I went out to hit, and like I said, the conflict with Billy and I even in '78 was like I was way off guard, because I just thought that things would be better."
Healy: Do you think . . . thats the reason he didnt pitch Kenny Holtzman? Kenny Holtzman was a terrific pitcher."
Jackson: "Thats a terrific question. Thats a question I thought about a lot."
Click below for more from Reggie.On New York City:
"I love New York. I love coming here. I love being in the city. I love being out in the city. I love seeing the people. Its just a great place. You know your heart beats faster when youre here. It's exciting. It's fun. They get it. Its quick. It's fast.
On George Steinbrenner:
George was tough and demanding. George had a soft spot. I think it took me 30 years to find it. But you know George has a soft spot. Hes extremely loyal, extremely loyal to people he cares about and people who become his friends. And when you do something for George, you know me being part of the Yankees and part of their success, George remembers that."
On his confrontation with Billy Martin in Fenway Park:
"I didnt really know that Billy was after me until we were in Boston and we had the confrontation on the ball that Jim Rice hit to right field. I got a bad jump on the ball and Billy called me off the field sent Paul Blair on the field to replace me.
"Blair made some comment to me almost like he was smiling inside. And when I went into the dugout Billy was just in a rage and I was lost. And he was in my face and said, 'If you embarrass me or this team Im going to embarrass you. I went like, 'What are you talking about?' I never really got it; I was completely off guard.
"Im glad he was restrained. Im glad he didnt grab me, because I was too young and too mean . . . He wouldve grabbed me without me being aware and I wouldve been startled and hurt him and wouldve lost that battle if you will Reggie Jackson grabbed the manager. And thats what you couldnt do.
"And I really didnt get it, I didnt understand it, I heard the playback and it was on the film and the tape and to this day I dont like to see it or watch it.
"I went inside to the clubhouse and I really sat there by my locker because I had the first locker that you walk by when you came through the dugout. So I was going to wait for him after the game and just kind of say What are you talking about? which wouldve excited the situation and inflamed the situation.
"I remember Bucky Dent was in the clubhouse looking at me saying he was going to challenge Billy and he was going to do this and was going to demand that and I looked at him like, Well, man, what are you talking about?'
"And then I sat there in my uniform for about an inning or so and then all of a sudden you come in the clubhouse and say, Reggie, you need to change your clothes and go home. Get out of here. And I waited around and sat around and it got to the eighth inning and you came harping on me, If you dont get out of here somethings going to happen and youre going to be the loser in this thing. Even though you may be right if he tries to start something, if you knock this guy down or something happens and you get in a tussle, youre going to lose whatever happens its going to tarnish your image.
"And for some reason you got through to me and I accepted what you said and I changed right into my street clothes, didnt shower, and walked home and got out just in time. You came to me later than night and said, 'Man, Im glad whatever it was that got you out of there, Im glad to have seen you left because it wouldve been a bad situation.
"So Im really thankful to you for that day for making me go home just to make sure nothing happened.
On his relationship with teammates:
"Players on the Yankees, players wouldnt talk to me. There were certainly, I was going to say there were factions but there really werent factions because I had like three or four friends and 22 guys that didnt talk to me. There were certainly the Roy Whites that were always in the middle of the road and was a gentleman all the time.
"Willie Randolph, who became a very dear friend at a very young age and a supporter that basically said this guy's a good player, he doesnt do anything that I disrespect, I respect the way he goes about his business.
"But from Roy White to Ron Guidry to Randolph to Catfish Hunter to Kenny Holtzman, those guys were always, just treated me as a good player that helped their club. But whether you spoke to the media in order to embellish yourself, I dont know that that works with players. I think that there may be a few players that do that. The media comes and talks to you on their own. You dont have a sign on your locker that says, 'Hey, Im willing to talk to you; I want to talk to you. The media will walk right by you if you dont have anything to say or you dont have anything important or significant to say.
"Since I was an integral part of the team, as was Thurman Munson, as was Catfish Hunter, as was Sparky Lyle, they came to my locker to talk to me about things that I thought about or what I felt about the ballgame. And I told them what I thought or what I felt. If I was interesting they printed it, if I was boring they went somewhere else.