• Reggie: Billy Was Bigoted & Anti-Semitic

    Posted by on October 28th, 2011 · Comments (17)

    Via Pete Caldera -

    To Reggie Jackson, this is fact – not opinion – that Billy Martin engaged in bigoted and anti-Semitic behavior during his tumultuous tenure as Yankees manager.

    “I didn’t say it as accusatory … I said it with feeling and empathy,” Jackson said in a phone conversation Thursday, seeking to clarify comments he made in a soon-to-be-televised interview. “I said it as to what went on.”

    During a chat with Bob Costas, to be aired Monday on MLB Network, Mr. October provided frank commentary on his former skipper, who died in a car crash in December 1989.

    “I did not accept the way he managed me. I did not accept the way he managed Ken Holtzman. I thought there was anti-Semitism there. … I couldn’t accept that,” Jackson said in a partial transcript released by MLB Network. “I couldn’t accept the racial epithets in reference to players like Elliott Maddox or Billy Sample.”

    In speaking with The Record on Thursday, Jackson said, “The most disturbing part of it all is that the writers that covered the team never made mention of it and were completely aware of it.”

    As a minority, Jackson said he felt a kinship with the number of Jewish writers who covered the club at the time. Yet, he felt a disappointment that “my social plight in my era in the ’70s, and the things that went on in our club were omitted by the media.’’

    “If I would’ve said it, it would’ve been a great story,” Jackson said. “[But] it should’ve been reported by someone who writes opinions on the Yankees. It never was.”

    Martin hated Ken Holtzman. I remember reading, many years ago, how Billy once, from the dugout, pointed at Holtzman running in the outfield and made nasty references about him to some others that you could hear the money in Holtzman’s pockets rattling around as he was jogging.

    And, we know that Billy did not like Reggie. But, did Martin have something against all Jews and Blacks?

    Did Martin hate Rod Carew when he had him in 1969? How about Willie Horton in 1971? We know that Billy loved Rickey Henderson like a son – and Rickey loved Martin back.

    I would bet that there were people who Martin didn’t like – and, if they happened to be Black or Jewish, then Billy would use bigoted or anti-semitic slurs towards them. But, I doubt that he hated people out of the chute just because they were Black or Jewish.

    But, I could be wrong here too…

    Comments on Reggie: Billy Was Bigoted & Anti-Semitic

    1. satchel
      October 28th, 2011 | 1:33 pm

      You’re cutting an awfully fine distinction there.

      Using bigoted slurs toward someone isn’t excusable just because you have other reasons for disliking him besides his ethnic or racial group.

      Especially if you are in a position of authority within an organization, it is an absolutely unacceptable thing to do. Other people hear those slurs, besides the disliked person they are directed at. It sets a tone and environment of bigotry that affects everyone in the organization.

      However, I will acknowledge that the notion that Billy Martin was an asshole with no control over the filth that flew out of his mouth is hardly a novel one.

      I wish stories like this could remain in the past.

    2. redbug
      October 28th, 2011 | 2:17 pm

      @ satchel:

      I agree w/ all you said. But at this point, what’s Jackson’s excuse for bringing it all up now?

    3. #15
      October 28th, 2011 | 3:22 pm

      Reggie was, and still is, a self-agrandizing ass.

      Billy was far from a perfect human being. Flawed more than most. But he’s dead. Leave him alone.

    4. October 28th, 2011 | 3:29 pm

      satchel wrote:

      Using bigoted slurs toward someone isn’t excusable just because you have other reasons for disliking him besides his ethnic or racial group.

      Agreed. And, I never said it was acceptable – just saying that people do it, all the time.

      I know “white” people who are tolerant of different cultures, races, religions, etc. – who would be fine with having them as neighbors, classmates, teammates, co-workers, etc. – but who would also call someone by an ethnic slur (such as “Stupid nigger” or “Jew bastard”) if someone cut them off in traffic and almost caused them to have an accident…and they saw the other driver was black or hasidic.

      Again, doesn’t make it right. But, it doesn’t also mean that someone who does this is bigoted or anti-semitic.

    5. redbug
      October 28th, 2011 | 3:32 pm

      @ Steve L.:

      Steve, have to disagree w/ you. If some uses the terms “Stupid nigger” or “Jew bastard”, they’re ignorant bigots.

    6. 77yankees
      October 28th, 2011 | 3:58 pm

      All of this was in Reggie’s book he wrote with Mike Duplica some 25 years ago – this is not news.

      Anyone who read Thurman Munson’s 1978 autobiography with Marty Appel would see there was a paragraph where Thurman mentioned he would constantly rib Bobby Bonds by calling him “boy” and that Bonds would respond by calling him a “honky”. Things have changed in 30 years and I’m not saying it was right, but back then it was an accepted part of the clubhouse rhetoric.

      As for Billy, I think he just had his favorites and non-faves regardless of race as Steve mentioned. Goose Gossage, Larry Gura, Ed Whitson to name a few. And remember he pretty much had the backs of Dock Ellis and Mickey Rivers when they were Yankees too.

    7. October 28th, 2011 | 4:09 pm

      @ redbug:

      Not sure I agree. But, it’s OK to disagree.

      Lots of people feel the need to put labels on others, esp. when lashing out…like “White Trailer Trash” or “Guinea Punk” or “Dumb Chink”…and it’s just said out of anger because the person did them some wrong (or they think the person did). And, that same person would probably have no problem if their kids married Derek Jeter or Ann Curry.

      Again, not saying it’s right to do the label thing..but I would not assume that all that do it are bigoted or anti-semitic. And, to do that…well…it would be prejudiced…no?

      Is it not being prejudiced when you assume that someone is an ignorant bigot just becuase they once used an ethnic slur? :-)

    8. October 28th, 2011 | 4:11 pm

      77yankees wrote:

      Things have changed in 30 years and I’m not saying it was right, but back then it was an accepted part of the clubhouse rhetoric.

      Wasn’t Joe DiMaggio also openly called the Big Dago in the Yankees clubhouse, including by his manager, when he was a player?

      Granted, that was a longer time ago.

    9. 77yankees
      October 28th, 2011 | 4:31 pm

      @ Steve L.:

      Wasn’t the “Copacabana” incident that ultimately got Billy traded from the Yankees back in 1957 fueled by the Yankees party taking object to some drunken bowlers hurling racial slurs at Sammy Davis Jr.?

    10. October 28th, 2011 | 4:37 pm

      @ 77yankees: Yup. But, I think that was more Bauer being pissed at the racist.

    11. #15
      October 28th, 2011 | 5:28 pm

      @ 77yankees:
      Billy didn’t need much of an excuse to brawl. Any topic would do.

      I can just hear that little voice in his head say over and over… “It’s go time.”

    12. October 28th, 2011 | 7:58 pm

      Mantle said it best: Billy is the only guy I know who can HEAR someone giving him the finger.

      FWIW, a friend of mine lived near Billy when he was Yankees manager, in NJ. They hung out at the same bar in Hasbrouck Heights (sic?). And he said Billy would get into fights all the time in the bar.

    13. 77yankees
      October 28th, 2011 | 8:57 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      FWIW, a friend of mine lived near Billy when he was Yankees manager, in NJ. They hung out at the same bar in Hasbrouck Heights (sic?). And he said Billy would get into fights all the time in the bar.

      They’d say people would try to pick fights with Billy all the time in bars – he was an easy target for the litigious hopeful crowd.

    14. KPOcala
      October 29th, 2011 | 7:04 pm

      This witch hunt against intolerance has become intolerable. And deep down we all should understand that it’s the mindset not the words that matter. I’ve heard the ‘dago’ word and more tossed at me, and I have felt, all at the same time, that I should either bend like the reed in the wind, beat the person’s head out, or curl up and cry, with my self esteem destroyed. Just ‘bend like the wind, baby’.

      What I find amazing is Reggie’s pathetic pitch to get the spotlight the way he did. Man, I used to love Reggie, but he really was A-Rod, years before the centaur was born and still going strong. And those great games that I saw him play doesn’t make him any more palatable. IMHO.

    15. Raf
      October 31st, 2011 | 10:22 am

      We’re all prejudiced to varying degrees. It may not be right, but it’s human nature; we love our categories.

    16. KPOcala
      October 31st, 2011 | 10:11 pm

      @ Raf: Well, everyone is “prejudiced”, it’s way too often used in place of “bigot”. Anyone that’s walked into a bank (unless, of course, your Bono) looking ‘rough’ knows that the suit and tie thing is going to be treated differently.

      And Reggie Jackson damn well knows this to be true. Go back and read his appropriately titled “Reggie” from 1974 and you’ll see what I mean. Man, and to think that I may have been his biggest fan and defender back 30+ years ago….

    17. Raf
      November 1st, 2011 | 2:05 am

      KPOcala wrote:

      And Reggie Jackson damn well knows this to be true. Go back and read his appropriately titled “Reggie” from 1974 and you’ll see what I mean. Man, and to think that I may have been his biggest fan and defender back 30+ years ago….

      I read it a while back.

      It’s not surprising that bigot is used in place of prejudiced; they’re synonyms.

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