by Tracy Johnson
One of the most quotable and colorful players in the history of baseball, Reggie Jackson once described himself as “The Straw That Stirs The Drink.” Bold. Colorful. Memorable. Depending on how you view it, Reggie’s hubris, ego, confidence or arrogance made him a lightning rod of controversy in his 20 year career, and earned him the nickname Mr. October.
Reggie is a Hall of Famer. He was known for failure. He was one of his era’s leaders in striking out. And he was known for great success, hitting majestic home runs, including many at the most important, dramatic times possible.
Reggie’s flair for the dramatic punctuated his considerable achievements. His brightest moment was hitting three consecutive home runs in the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. This added to his legend, and is in fact, the moment Mr. October was born.
Jackson was a great major league player, but was even more special because he understood that he was an entertainer.
At home, Yankee fans chanted, “Reg-gie, Reg-gie” when he came to bat. On the road, he was greeted by boos every time he stepped to the plate.
And not just boos.
Opposing fans would curse, throw things at him and hurl insults at him and his family.
Whether it was a strong positive or a negative, Reggie got reaction. He caused emotional responses.
He had the courage to be himself with no apologies. Sometimes his opinions didn’t go over well with management or the media. That included his bosses, especially manager Billy Martin and even the owner, George Steinbrenner.
Reggie didn’t care. He knew criticism came with the fame. There was even a Reggie candy bar.
In life and on the radio, it’s easy to go with the flow and avoid confrontation. Many personalities play it safe, avoid controversy and try to not shake things up.
When the show is over, these personalities reflect on it and say, “Whew, I made it through another day.” Then they prepare for tomorrow.
Avoiding the spotlight is okay…for DJ’s. Not for personalities. The alternative is to be bold, finding a way to stand out. That takes time, preparation and effort. Australian radio stars Kyle & Jackie O agonize each week to find ways to cause listeners to talk about them.
But this demands courage, stamina and an inner strength focused on a purpose.
To truly be the best, prepare for boos. Making a difference and resonating with a fan base means standing for something. Standing for something produces critics.
It comes with the territory. The alternative is to languish in the zone of mediocrity.
Reggie once said when asked if it ever bothered him to hear the boos:
They don’t boo nobodies.
Stand up and be counted. Dare to be great. Be somebody. And do it boldly and with conviction.
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