REGGIE ! ! !! ! ! - Lisa Blumenfeld
Counting Down to Opening Day, We Are Counting Down The 100 Walk Off Homers in Angels History. #37 was hit by the self-proclaimed straw that stirs the drink.
Opening Day, April 1, 2013 is 39 days away. There have been one hundred walk off home runs in Angels history. This is the story of #37, hit by the man that they paid to do things like this. It was the lone walk off home run by Reggie Jackson in his five seasons as an Angel.
May 29, 1982 - This is what they paid Reggie Jackson to do. Reggie was the biggest free agent signing in Angels history up until they signed Albert Pujols in December of 2011. At the time Reggie was as famous as Derek Jeter ever was and as hated as Barry Bonds ever was. Combine that and consider that ticket sales in the first week of his signing paid for the first year of his contract. It was one of the greatest moves Gen Autry ever made, marketing-wise. While his time with the Angels did not produce the ring that Mister Autry so wanted, it raised the Angels' profile.
If Reggie had just hit a clutch home run in a post season game in 1982 or 1986, his Angels legacy would have been far more immortalized. But he was no slouch in an Angels uniform. He hit 123 home runs in an Angels uniform with an OPS+ of 114 over five seasons. And he sold tickets like no other player before or since. The Angels did not outdraw their own 1982 attendance until 2003 - they had to win a world series to outdraw Reggie.
In his 47th game as an Angel, in a contest against the Milwaukee Brewers, Reggie Jackon came up to the plate in the bottom of the tenth inning of a tie game. Bobby Grich had singled in a run in the ninth to send the game to extra innings. In the tenth, with one out, the Brewers pitched to him. Mistake. He hit an extra inning tie-breaking walk off home run to win the game 5-4.
I was not there that evening, but there is not a doubt in my mind that almost every one of the 26,000+ fans in attendance on that Saturday night were chanting REGGIE - REGGIE - REGGIE and feeding the legend that was Reginald Martinez Jackson.