TAMPA — Reggie Jackson no longer will serve as a special adviser for the Yankees, the Baseball Hall of Famer told The Post on Sunday.
“I would say I’ve stepped back a little bit, taken my retirement, really,” Jackson said. “I just think it’s time.”
The Most Valuable Player of the 1977 World Series, during which he hit three home runs in the clinching game to draw the moniker “Mr. October,” Jackson, 74, has worked in an advisory role for the Yankees since George Steinbrenner hired him in 1993 — although, typical of the late Boss and his fiery slugger, there was at least one “break” along the way, in the late-1990s, and another instance, in 2012, in which the Yankees ordered Jackson to stay away from the team for a while after he publicly criticizing the team’s third baseman, Alex Rodriguez.
Jackson, who also helped the Yankees win a championship in 1978 and spent a total of five seasons playing (1977-81) in the pinstripes, said his decision didn’t result from any feud or bad blood with the Yankees: “There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do for the Steinbrenners.” He added that he would like to attend the club’s Old-Timers’ Day this season if the pandemic conditions allow that to occur. In recent years, before the pandemic limited access, Jackson typically spent time with the Yankees in spring training, met up with them during their visits to California (where he lives), stopped in for a homestand or two and was around for the team’s playoff run.
“I’ll never have anything bad to say about George,” Jackson said. “It’s just time to step back. I want to be around the game, and I want to contribute. I want to leave my knowledge. But it’s just time to move on.” Jackson mentioned the possibility of working for another major league team closer to the Golden State. He is friendly with Astros owner Jim Crane, who owns a home in Southern California.
The former outfielder has spoken for decades about the need for baseball to diversify, and just last week, the Yankees included Jackson on their newly formed Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Jackson noted that his fellow Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, who died last month, was equally passionate about this matter.
“I was way too outspoken to be a fit [in a more prominent front-office role], now that I see what’s happened to where minorities are in the game, they’re nowhere,” Jackson said. “I do think if it wasn’t for George and his family, then I wouldn’t have gotten in the game. because I’m not a fit.”
Referring to Jared Porter, the white man whom the Mets hired as general manager in December only to fire him in January upon revelations that he harassed a female journalist with unsolicited, lewd text messages, Jackson said, “You don’t see other minorities get those kinds of chances.” Of the eight people appointed as presidents of baseball operations or general managers for clubs this past offseason, including Mets acting GM Zack Scott, only one, the Marlins’ Kim Ng, is a minority.
Jackson has shared his concerns with another Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey Jr., whom Major League Baseball recently hired as a senior adviser to commissioner Rob Manfred, focusing on baseball operations, youth development and diversity. For now, Jackson said, he’ll focus on his charity, the Mr. October Foundation, as well as his board positions with Parts Authority and Hendrick Automotive Group.
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrener didn’t return an email for comment.
— with Dan Martin and Oli Coleman