Every Yankees fan knows the story of the feud between Reggie Jackson and then-captain Thurman Munson. Jackson showed up to spring training after signing a record contract in free agency. He then gave a now infamous interview with Robert Ward of SPORT magazine, with an even more infamous quote:
“I’m the straw that stirs the drink. Maybe I should say me and Munson, but he can only stir it bad.”
How accurate the quote was is debated to this day, but it lead to Jackson and Munson feuding. However, Jackson recently set the record straight on SiriusXM’s “The Howard Stern Show.”
Speaking to the radio legend, Jackson made very clear that Munson was a “great guy” and that in the beginning, it was all about money. Jackson claimed that Munson implored owner George Steinbrenner to sign him to the record deal. The kicker is Munson was expecting a raise himself in return, and Steinbrenner welched.
Jackson also denied his “straw that stirs the drink” remarks, blaming Ward for setting it up and misquoting him. This article sadly came out after Jackson and Munson made their peace over the alleged money issue. It all went downhill from there and was, as Jackson puts it, a “Cold War.”
Thankfully, the two eventually patched up their differences and even took some rides on Munson’s plane.
We can go back and forth forever about the quote and whether or not Robert Ward took some ethical missteps, but there’s still one truth everyone is missing. Yankees fans will never believe Jackson over Munson despite their winning two World Series together.
Jackson was a hired gun who came over and did his job, but was definitely more about the “Reggie” brand than being a Yankee. He even had a full box of “Reggie” candy bars during his interview with Stern. He played out his five-year deal with New York and then signed another with the Angels. No hard feelings.
Munson, however, is still universally beloved by Yankees fans, even by those who never saw him play. He was the epitome of toughness and teamwork. A blue collar Ohio man whose intensity matched New York City’s throbbing pulse. Think of him as baseball’s Mark Bavaro, but with more individual honors.
That said, that we still talk about this feud almost 50 years later is a testament to both men. Jackson was a superstar athlete with a natural spotlight. Munson was, simply, a baseball player, and a damn good one. At a minimum, it’s good to hear both men apparently settled their differences.
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