Before he became known as Mr. October or slugged three home runs in a World Series game or had a candy bar named after him, Reggie Jackson was a highly-touted rookie in Kansas City.
The Kansas City A’s chose Jackson with the second overall pick in the 1966 Major League Baseball draft. A year later, he made his big-league debut, starting both ends of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians at Municipal Stadium on June 9, 1967.
Jackson was just 21, and he struggled that first season, batting .178 with one home run in 135 plate appearances in 35 games.
The next season, the A’s moved to Oakland and the fortunes of the franchise and Jackson took off. Jackson finished his career in 1987, having hit 563 home runs with 1,702 RBIs. He was picked for 14 All-Star Games, won an MVP award and played on teams that won five World Series championships.
During five seasons with with the New York Yankees, Jackson’s star burned brightest as he cemented his status as one of baseball’s best players. He also made headlines for run-ins with Yankees manager Billy Martin. But Jackson became a national celebrity and even made a handful of acting appearances.
Jackson, 70, will be back in Kansas City on Thursday. The Kansas City Baseball Historical Society is playing host to “An Evening with Reggie Jackson and his 1967 Kansas City A’s teammates” at 7 p.m. at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino in Kansas City.
In addition to Jackson, other members of the 1967 A’s who are expected to take part are: John “Blue Moon” Odom, Diego Segui, John Donaldson, Lew Krausse, Danny Cater, Chuck Dobson, Bob Duliba, Jim Gosger, Phil Roof, Ken Suarez, Jack Aker, Ted Kubiak, Jay Hankins and Hall of Fame groundskeeper George Toma.
“This is actually our seventh reunion we’ve had of Kansas City A’s teams,” said historical society board member Mark Moore. “This is the first year we’re just focusing on one particular season.”
While the 1967 A’s team finished 62-99, many of the players were part of the Oakland dynasty as the A’s won five straight division titles and a World Series three-peat.
“You look at the players that were on that team that were drafted or came up with Kansas City and by 1972, ’73, ’74, the Oakland A’s won the World Series,” Moore said.
“It’s our goal as an organization to really honor these guys,” Moore said. “Our members really enjoy seeing the guys we bring back. Anyone who has worn Kansas City on the front of their jerseys is special to us.”