Fans that came to see Reggie Jackson were in awe as he made his way into the New York Yankees-themed NYY Steak last Friday night, munching away on a bag of Lay's Barbecued flavored potato chips, inside the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek.
As he's so famously remembered for all those prolific postseason home runs that helped him garner the nickname 'Mr. October' , the 65-year-old Jackson never broke a stride toward the opening ceremonies of the brand new steakhouse, where he was first asked to put down the chips and take pictures holding the company's signature steak knife.
"Why don't you ask me a question?" said Jackson, laughing. "Obviously, I'm still with the Yankees. The Seminole people asked me to come down and do something with the NYY Steakhouse, so it's a good fit. A nice fit. The Yankees are always doing things first-class, so I know the relationships got to be a really good one."
In his first public appearance showing in Coconut Creek, Jackson was all ears for the free meet-and-greet with the fans, where he signed autographs, and called it an honor and a privilege to be in attendance.
For the NYY Steak, this is their second such restaurant opening, with its inaugural steakhouse inside the new Yankee Stadium. On this evening, Jackson talked about his current relationship with the professional ballclub, his busy schedule earlier in the day, and his overall take on the NYY Steak food.
"If it wasn't good, they'd change it [laughs]," Jackson said. "They'd get rid of everybody and make it better [laughs]. I've seen how they've built Yankee Stadium. I see how they do things. I'm not surprised that they've taken the name New York Yankees and built a tremendous steakhouse."
Before boarding his flight to South Florida, Jackson admitted he ate breakfast, and had "a little pasta" for lunch at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The chips were just a snack because, "I was hungry," he said.
Still boasting with confidence, Jackson can carry himself after hammering 563 round-trippers (10 of which came in 27 Fall Classic games, including four in consecutive at-bats, 24 RBI, and a .357 batting average), and a lifetime slugging percentage of .490.
During his 21-year career, the left-handed swinging outfielder captured the AL MVP award in 1973, and won three straight World Series championships with the Oakland A's in the early 1970s, and two consecutive titles with the Yankees in '77-'78. He's best remembered for hitting three consecutive homers in the clinching game of the '77 World Series.
"During my career, I considered it a privilege to play baseball, a privilege to wear a major league uniformâ€”any major league uniformâ€”a privilege to be able to play a game, get paid, change lives, and help your family," Jackson said. "I've seen how the Steinbrenners have treated the franchise. They put a tremendous product on the field."
Jackson called comparisons to him and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez as a "compliment". He's also fond of the Andy Pettitte signing. After speaking with Pettitte a couple of times the last few weeks in Orlando, Jackson got the sense the left-hander "had an itch to come back," Jackson said.
Number 44 expects great things out of the Bronx Bombers this season.
"It's really going to depend on the pitching," Jackson said. "We'll score enough runs. We've got some guys a little older, but I expect to see a great year out of Derek Jeter, a great year out of Alex Rodriguez. There's age on the left side, but these guys know what they're doing. They're in great shape, tremendous competitors, but still have big skills."