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Jackson denies disparaging quote about Munson

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NEW YORK (AP)

Reggie Jackson insists in his new autobiography that he never disparaged Thurman Munson in an attention-grabbing Sport magazine report 36 years ago, a claim the author immediately denied.

Jackson also criticizes Billy Martin, praises George Steinbrenner and portrays racial discrimination he faced throughout his career.

Robert Ward's story in the June 1977 issue quoted Jackson as saying, ''Munson thinks he can be the straw that stirs the drink, but he can only stir it bad.''

''It never happened. At least not like he said it did,'' Jackson wrote in ''Reggie Jackson: Becoming Mr. October,'' scheduled for publication Tuesday by Doubleday. The Associated Press purchased an early copy.

''The whole time he was trying to feed me that quote, but I know I never said it,'' Jackson said in the book, written with Kevin Baker. ''There's no way I'd be that dumb to knock the captain of the team - and, by the way, the guy who told George Steinbrenner to go get me on the free agent-market.''

Jackson has at times denied making that remark. In a telephone interview Friday, Ward stood by his report.

''He's been lying about it since it happened,'' Ward said. ''He's just lied and lied. And now I think probably he's gotten to the age where he actually believes the stuff he says here. ... I made nothing up. Not one thing.''

Ward also denied Jackson's claim that he has refused to meet with him.

Jackson also wrote an autobiography ''Reggie'' with Mike Lupica that was published in 1994. This book focuses mainly on the Yankees' 1977 and 1978 seasons.

Now a special adviser to the Yankees, Jackson has fond recollections of Steinbrenner, who owned the Yankees from 1973 until his death three years ago. He details many of his feuds with Martin, his manager for parts of three seasons.

''He lied to people,'' Jackson wrote. ''That was his history. He lied to the general manager; he lied to the owner. He lied to players all the time, which was a big reason why he wore out his welcome.''

Jackson also claimed Martin, who died in 1989, made anti-Semitic remarks about a Yankees pitcher. Ken Holtzman, who was Jewish, played for the Yankees in 1977. And Jackson said most of the time Willie Randolph was the only black player on the team sympathetic to him.

''Most of the black players on our team did not support me, and that hurt,'' Jackson said. ''Nobody - nobody - really wanted to locker next to me.''

He also says that Martin borrowed the line about Jackson and Steinbrenner that led to Martin's forced resignation in July 1978: ''One's a born liar, the other's convicted.''

''It wasn't even original. It was something a couple of guys on the team came up with. They'd been saying it about Steinbrenner and Billy Martin himself - not me! - since back in spring training,'' Jackson said.

Jackson, who hit 563 home runs and was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in 1993, said he wishes he were playing in the current era

''In some ways with ESPN and additional media, the controversy would be bigger. It would never stop. They'd have to bring back Walter Cronkite. They'd cover the things I said and supposedly said on the evening news. That would be such fun,'' he wrote. ''If I played today, I'd stay in trouble. I'd be in the commissioner's office all the time, I guess. I'd be everywhere - including where I wasn't supposed to be.''

Tagged: Yankees

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