Thursday, June 5, 2014

June 5, 1974: Reggie Jackson and Billy North Square Off in The Clubhouse

     On June 5, 1974, fists flew in the visitors clubhouse at Tigers Stadium in Detroit, when Reggie Jackson and Billy North of the Oakland A's squared off in a battle between teammates. The two outfielders had not been on speaking terms for a month, after Jackson had accused North of not legging out an infield single. As the month went by a pot that was at a simmer began to boil. It finally boiled over on that day in early June. Not once, but twice the two players squared off. The first time Vida Pinson and Blue Moon Odom intervened, but minutes later they were at it again. This time Sal Bando and Ray Fosse tried to play peacemaker. Once the melee came to an end Jackson had a sore shoulder, while Ray Fosse suffered a neck injury that would change the course of his season instantaneously. Officially diagnosed as a pinch nerve, Fosse's injury required surgery, and kept him sideline until late August. He was the biggest victim in the mess. Once the dust settle the North and Jackson were penciled into the lineup, before the A's beat the Tigers 9-1. North contributed with a 2 for 3 day, with a double and a ribbie, while Jackson went 0 for 4 before leaving the game in the middle of the sixth.

     In the days that followed the owner of the club, Charlie Finley was irate about the incident. He came into the clubhouse and let the players know that the two-time defending champions would play like champions. Despite the turmoil the teammates learned to live together, and drove toward a third consecutive title, which came on October 16th of that year, as the A's took care of business in the Fall Classic by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers four games to one. Later in life the two embattled players acknowledged a respect for each other, and looked to move on. There is a good chance a few laughs have been had between old teammates about that day in Detroit.

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