Reggie Jackson already had a postseason reputation when he joined the New York Yankees in 1977.
He was the 1973 World Series MVP in Oakland, and helped lift those dynastic A’s of the mid-1970s to a three-peat.
Still, it took until the 1977 World Series for Jackson to truly earn his now famous nickname: “Mr. October.”
Wednesday is the 40th anniversary of his masterpiece – an evening that remains arguably the most memorable single-game display by a hitter in postseason history. He hit three home runs on exactly three pitches from three different Dodgers pitchers that night in a performance that seemed to make the old Yankee Stadium shake from noise and delirium.
Jackson’s third blast, off Dodgers knuckleballer Charlie Hough, traveled an estimated 475 feet, landing in the old Stadium’s center-field pavilion – an area very few hitters ever reached.
On his back that evening, the Yankees clinched their first of consecutive World Series titles, with Jackson earning his second World Series MVP award.
At the time, only Jackson and Babe Ruth had homered three times in a World Series game. Albert Pujols and Pablo Sandoval have since done it in the 2011 and 2012 series, respectively. All told, it’s happened just 10 times in any round of postseason play – most recently just two weeks ago, when Jose Altuve hit three in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Those other three-homer games? Impressive, to be sure. But with all due respect, none of them hold a candle to what Reggie did on that cold night in the Bronx 40 years ago.
Happy anniversary, Mr. October.