Major League Baseball
Reggie Jackson on bittersweet return to Rickwood Field: 'Coming back here is not easy'
Major League Baseball

Reggie Jackson on bittersweet return to Rickwood Field: 'Coming back here is not easy'

Updated Jun. 20, 2024 9:16 p.m. ET

Returning to Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama stirred up mixed feelings for Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson on Thursday.

Amid a historic night, prior to the Giants and Cardinals playing MLB's first regular-season game as a tribute to the Negro Leagues (live on FOX and the FOX Sports app), Jackson shared a few chilling stories with the "MLB on FOX" crew about the racism and bigotry he encountered during his playing days. 

"Coming back here is not easy," the 78-year-old Jackson began. "The racism when I played here. The difficulty of going through different places where we traveled. Fortunately, I had a manager and I had players on the team that helped me get through it. But, I wouldn't wish it on anybody."

The 14-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion, who made his debut in June 1967 for the Kansas City Athletics, recalled just a few of the instances during his playing years in which he was specifically targeted because of his race and treated as less than in the cities his team played in.


"I would walk into restaurants, and people would point and say, 'The n----- can't eat here.' I would go to a hotel, and they would say, ‘The n----- can’t stay here,'" Jackson explained.

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"We went to Charlie Finley's country club for a Welcome Home dinner, and they pointed me out with the n-word [and said] ‘He can’t come in here.'

Jackson recalls Finley, the owner of the A's at the time, marched the entire team out of the club until they let his right fielder in.

"He said, We're going to go to the diner and eat hamburgers. Or, go where we're wanted," Jackson said.

Jackson also credited his A's manager John McNamara for refusing to bend during those times by not allowing the team to eat or stay at places that refused to accept him.

He also spoke about an incident in which he was staying on friends' couches for about a month or so, until the Ku Klux Klan threatened to burn the apartment complex he was staying in unless he got out.

Jackson says he was asked this week if he felt he had prevailed by playing in Birmingham all those years ago when so many did not want him to.

After sharing the painful memories, Jackson concluded, "I would never want to do it again."

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