In August, Mark Skousen suggested we attend a San Francisco Giants game together. He and I were both speaking at the Money Show in San Francisco. We have known each other for 35 years through my speaking at several conferences he held, most recently FreedomFest in Las Vegas in 2010.
We were accompanied by two younger guys from his publisher. One of them wanted to get the bobbleheads they were giving out that night. Whatever. So we stood in an extra line and got our bobbleheads of some fat, Latino player who was blowing a pink bubble-gum bubble in his doll depiction while diving for a hot grounder. I figured I might give it to my two-year-old granddaughter or some such. Never opened the box. My wife thought she was too young and would instantly destroy it.
That bobble head would be of 5' 11", 290-pound Pablo Sandoval who last night became the fourth player in baseball history to hit three home runs in the same World Series game.
I now plan to sell my Sandoval bobble head on eBay and use the proceeds to retire in Kauai.
When asked how he did it after the game, Pablo spouted the usual cliches. When I was a high school football coach, I taught my players how to be interviewed by the sports press. Mainly I told them to start all answers with the phrase “No question about it, Phil,…”
Later, in a Jack in the Box TV commercial, “Jack” did almost exactly that where he was an athlete being interviewed by the press. He left off the “Phil.”
One of Sandoval’s cliches was he got three “good pitches to hit.” No, he didn’t. The third home run came off a ball low. I shuddered to think about my Little leaguers seeing such a home run during the season. It would have wiped out all my hours of persuading the kids that they need to wait for a good pitch to hit on the first two strikes. I had enough of that trouble with major leaguers hitting home runs off high pitches then. And at the time, I hit a top-of-the-chest-high pitch to the warning track at our local California High School in a semi pro game and was grateful none of my Little League players saw it.
But wait a minute boys and girls. I saw Reggie Jackson do it live on TV in 1977. Sandoval did not match what Reggie Jackson did. No one ever matched what Reggie Jackson did that night.
On his first at bat, Reggie alked on four pitches. When Jackson hit his second home run that right, I commented to whoever I was watching it with, “I think that was the first pitch—and so was the first home run.” The announcers promptly confirmed exactly that. The fourth time the “straw that stirs the drink” came up, The Yankee Stadium crowd, who normally did not like Reggie, began to chant “Reg-Gie! Reg-Gie!” and America leaned forward on its chairs to see if—unbelievably—he could do it again: hit the first pitch he saw out of the park for the third time in one World Series game.
He could and he did. He only saw three pitches total in those second through fourth at bats, and hit each and every one of them out of Yankee Stadium. Here is the video of Reggie Hitting those three home runs. Three different pitchers and the third one was knuckleballer Charlie Hough. I saw a knuckleball once in adult baseball when I was batting. It made me look like a fool and I think I almost hurt myself trying to adjust to it.
They call Reggie “Mr. October.”
Reggie is an egomaniac pain in the ass, the Donald Trump of baseball. In spite of the fact that he was one of the greatest players of all time, you could still buy him for what he was worth and sell him for what he thought he was worth and have a substantial capital gain.
But that night he lived up even to his own billing, which is high praise indeed.
So a tip of the hat and a bubble-gum bubble for Pablo Sandoval. Great hitting! But Pablo, I saw Reggie Jackson. Reggie Jackson was a player on a boyhood favorite team of mine. And Pablo, you’re no Reggie Jackson. And Reggie is no Babe Ruth.
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