OAKLAND -- Reggie Jackson pulled up to the third-base dugout at the O.co Coliseum before today's game in the passenger's seat of a golf cart, wearing a gold jersey and an A's hat that he said he brought himself from home. But that's nothing, he said -- he has T-shirts of former A's teammates Vida Blue, Bert Campaneris, Catfish Hunter and Joe Rudi hanging up in his car shop.
"I wear my A's hat when I play golf," Jackson said. "I work for the Yankees and love the Yankees, but the A's are certainly a part of me that goes back forever."
On hand as the A's honored their 1973 World Series championship team, Jackson met with reporters for about 15 minutes before the pre-game ceremony. Players from the '73 team were introduced individually before the game and escorted to their former positions by current A's players. Josh Reddick walked to right field with Jackson, who later threw out the first pitch to former catcher and current broadcaster Ray Fosse.
Among the topics Jackson discussed was the number of African American players in the major leagues, which he termed: "Not very good. It's not very good, and I don't know why." Jackson said the rise of travel teams and private coaching that costs money may be a factor.
"It costs money to play Little League, it costs too much money for some kids to get private lessons," he said. "It's gone crazy, it's gone goofy.
Jackson said his foundation is working to get more inclusiveness in youth baseball and that he's interested in working with Major League Baseball on the issue. "I know that (Commissioner Bud Selig is) trying to do more about it," Jackson said.
Jackson was also asked about the A's potentially moving from Oakland and answered generally that he thinks the team just needs a new stadium. "A new stadium and a better place, create more revenue and have a better situation for fans," he said. "The ballpark here is outdated. They need a new venue, they need a new place. Everybody's got them and they need a new one too, so I hope they get it."
Jackson began his Hall of Fame career with the A's and was the American League and World Series Most Valuable Player during the 1973 season, when the A's won their second of three consecutive World Series titles. Jackson hit .293 with 32 homers and 117 RBIs during the regular season, then went 9-for-29 with six RBIs in the World Series as the A's beat the New York Mets in seven games. He homered in Game Seven.
Jackson said he listened to some oldies -- "some Marvin Gaye, Junior Walker and the All-Stars, Barry White, the Four Tops ..." -- on the way to the stadium this morning for the nostalgia factor.
"The guys that won the championship, it's good to see those guys, good to see the people," he said. "Brings some excitement, or good memories I guess."
Same went for current A's manager Bob Melvin, who grew up in the Bay Area watching the mid-70s A's and wears No. 6 partly in a nod to Sal Bando. Along with being "instrumental" to those teams and "the guy that probably commanded the most respect" -- earning the title of "The Captain" -- Bando hired Melvin to his first baseball job after his playing career in the Brewers' personnel department.
"This is going to be a special day," Melvin said. "We're going to have a world championship team here that the people here still identify with, and rightly so.
"There were a lot of great personalities. It was a very unique team, on top of the way they went about their business."
-- Matt Kawahara