"If only Billy Martin knew how much he’d be missed..died in a stupid drunken car accident 23 years ago today." - Alan Tompas on Facebook
35 years ago today, New York Yankees manager Billy Martin and superstar outfielder Reggie Jackson nearly came to blows on national television in a Fenway Park dugout. Martin had pulled Jackson from the game for what he perceived to be loafing, and when Jackson confronted him, Martin had to be restrained from attacking Jackson.
“I can assure you, my father was not a racist," Billy Martin Jr. said in a telephone interview. "My father was about winning. That’s all he cared about. He put people on the field as best he thought to get victories. He didn’t care about anyone’s background. "He just wanted the best player on the field. My father could’ve cared less about anything other than winning. He wasn’t there to make friends, but to make winners. Let’s let my father rest.”
Former New York Yankees great Reggie Jackson says Billy Martin used racist and anti-Semitic epithets
"I never had an understanding of Billy Martin. I did not accept the way he managed me," Jackson said in an interview with Bob Costas scheduled to air at 9 p.m. ET Monday on the MLB Network. "I did not accept the way he managed Ken Holtzman. I thought there was anti-Semitism there."
"I couldn’t accept that. I couldn’t accept the racial epithets in reference to players like Elliott Maddox or Billy Sample. There are players that played for him that would tell you that. So there was an uneasiness, a knowledge about the person that I was very uncomfortable with. … I wasn’t his choice and he wanted to show George (Steinbrenner). So that was kind of an oddity, a craziness that I never could follow, and I struggled to have respect for Billy as a person and had it reinforced with the anti-Semitism that I witnessed."
The New York Daily News asked Jackson to clarify his remarks on Thursday. He told the newspaper he was trying to educate, not “trample on a man’s grave.”
"If somebody asks you what it was like and you’re my age (65), you can’t run from the truth," Jackson told the newspaper. "This is what it was. Has (society) changed? Yes. Has it changed enough? No.
"Someone needs to know that this is what happened. I don’t hold anybody responsible. I have forgiven, but not forgotten and the minorities of the world have experienced it, not just me. Let this be a reminder that we need to be a little bit better."