October 8, 2013

Mets Failed To Draft Reggie Jackson Because Of Racism

A New York Post article details an excerpt from Reggie Jackson's new tell-all book, Becoming Mr. October, in which Jackson recounts the story of the 1966 draft. From Larry Getlen's Post piece:

According to Jackson’s new tell-all, “Becoming Mr. October” (Doubleday), in which he details feuds and resentments toward his old Yankee teammates, the New York media and especially his old manager Billy Martin, the only reason he did not become a Met was because his girlfriend, Juanita Campos, was Hispanic.
Jackson recalls how his coach at Arizona State, Bobby Winkles, broke the bad news.
“A day or two before the draft, Bobby Winkles sat me down and told me, ‘You’re probably not gonna be the No. 1 pick. You’re dating a Mexican girl, and the Mets think you will be a problem,’ ” Jackson writes. “ ‘They think you’ll be a social problem because you are dating out of your race.’ ”
Well, at least Met ineptitude is not just recent. That would be upsetting.

The Mets missed out on an all time great because of fears of interracial dating. While I understand that the civil rights movement still had a long way to go in 1966, one would imagine that the dismal Mets would have had the foresight to look past this during a draft. Jackson, obviously, went on to become an all time great player, doing so for the Athletics, Orioles, Yankees, Angels... and not the Mets. Now, no reason to be too bitter, as the Mets won the World Series just three years later. They took catcher Steve Chilcott in Jackson's place, who went on to do nothing. After dislocating his shoulder in minor league ball, he was plagued by injury and never progressed past Triple-A ball.

Meet the Mets, Meet the Mess... since 1962.


  1. This isn't a new revelation; Jackson made it quite a few years ago. There's some debate as to whether the Mets ever actually said this.

    1. Chuck,

      Sorry, hadn't heard it before. Saw it in the paper, found it interesting. It was this or "Who Should The Mets Get This Offseason", and we have about five more months left of that, so I thought this would be more fun.

      I'd believe Jackson making the story up, too. He seems to be kind of a headline seeker.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. The Mets had to deal with racism as an expansion team in 1962. The motel they rented for Spring Training refused to allow blacks to use the swimming pool or eat in the regular dining room. When learning or this, Casey Stengel made the swimming pool off limits to all Mets players and made the motel set aside a separate room for the team to eat in.

    Of course, while running the Yankees, GM George Weiss was slow to integrate the team and they were the 13th of 16 teams to have a black player. It was also said that Weiss forced Elston Howard, the first black Yankee player, to switch from outfield to catcher hoping to slow his progress to the major leagues down and also knowing that he would be blocked at the major league level by Yogi Berra.

    The Mets did draft a number of blacks in the expansion draft and signed others (like Paul Blair, Cleon Jones) to free agent contracts before the entry draft was created. By 1966, I'm not sure if a mixed relationship was the reason the Mets passed on Jackson. Considering how many catchers the Mets went through in their early days, I'd like to think they were drafting for a position of need and Chilcott was a legitimate prospect before getting hurt. The Mets did get their first solid catcher the previous fall when they traded for Jerry Grote, however, he won the job based on his defense and it took him two years before he proved he could hit major league pitching.