In today’s New York Post, there is a claim that the Mets’ “racism” was the reason the team didn’t draft Reggie Jackson with the first overall pick in the 1966 Amateur Draft. The claim comes from Jackson himself, and was revealed in his new book “Becoming Mr. October.”
The Post seemingly prides itself on writing sensationalistic articles that are often topped by misleading headlines. Today’s “the Mets were racist 47 years ago” story is no different. Here’s a blurb from the article, which is an excerpt from Jackson’s upcoming book:
“A day or two before the draft, Bobby Winkles sat me down and told me, ‘You’re probably not gonna be the No. 1 pick. You’re dating a Mexican girl, and the Mets think you will be a problem,’ ” Jackson writes. “ ‘They think you’ll be a social problem because you are dating out of your race.’ ”Jackson was especially baffled because he’s part Hispanic — his grandmother is from Puerto Rico and his middle name is Martinez. But that didn’t matter, even to the perennial cellar-dwelling Mets.“No, you’re colored, and they don’t want that,” Winkles said.
The above is a serious allegation, but it’s hearsay that was recounted to Jackson by his coach – not the Mets. It may be true, it may not be. Even if it is true, it’s not racism. Below is the definition of racism:
1. The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
2. Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
The allegations from nearly 50 years ago (that the Mets shied away from Jackson because of non-baseball reasons) may have merit. What they most certainly are not (if they are indeed true) is evidence that “racism” was the reason the Mets didn’t draft Reggie Jackson. Stupidity? Yes. Letting the social mood of the era dictate their decision? Absolutely. Racism? No.
Later in the article, excerpts from Jackson’s book highlight his claims that his black Yankees teammates didn’t support him, that manager Billy Martin was an anti-semite, and that Martin was a racist (without anything to base that claim on). Of course, the headline only labels the Mets (erroneously) as racists.
Jackson has always been a controversial figure, and the Post is the perfect outlet for him to present tidbits from his new book. One would think, though, that the New York Post would know what the definition of racism is. They apparently don’t, and the claim that the Mets were “racist” nearly 50 years ago is a waste of everyone’s time.