Jackson, whose Hall of Fame baseball career has generated as much controversy as it has included greatness, set off a firestorm with remarks he made in a Sports Illustrated article — dissing, among others, current Yankee Alex Rodriguez and former Met star catcher Gary Carter.
According to ESPN, Jackson said that his “very good friend” Rodriguez is no shoo-in to make the Hall despite his 642 career homers because “what he admitted about his (steroid) usage does cloud some of his records.”
A-Rod’s response? “With friends like that,” he said on Thursday, “who needs enemies?”
Jackson also said that he “didn’t see” Carter, who was inducted at Cooperstown in 2003 but died from brain cancer this past winter, “as a Hall of Famer.”
Reggie has been ducking bean balls since the article came out.
"He's trying to rectify everything," said Yankee manager Joe Girardi.
Jackson apologized to Rodriguez and the Yankee organization, and the New York Post reported that he was trying to reach out to Carter’s widow, Sandy.
“I am very disappointed [the Carter comments are] out there and I am embarrassed,’’ Jackson told the Post’s George A. King III. “I have a number for his wife and I want to talk to her and the family. That needs to be noted. I am calling to apologize for inappropriate comments while I was talking to friends.’’
Jackson said he was only able to leave a message on Sandy Carter’s phone yesterday.
A number of Carter’s former Mets teammates were incensed, especially at the timing of the remarks.
“Reggie is entitled to his opinion,” former pitcher Ron Darling, Carter’s battery mate on the 1986 World Series champion Mets. “There are other players in the Hall of Fame that baseball historians may not feel as though they should be in … I’m sure there are some who said that [Sandy] Koufax’ 165 wins shouldn’t get in.
“ I’m sure if [Jackson] could have a do-over, he would,’’ Darling added.
“I think that [Carter] deserves to be in,” Keith Hernandez said. “I’m glad that he’s in, so I’ll disagree with Reggie and keep it at that.”
Rodriguez, meanwhile, told the New York Daily News that, regarding his post-article conversation with Jackson, “We’ll keep that very quiet.”
Besides A-Rod and “The Kid,” Jackson said that Kirby Puckett, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, Bert Blyleven and Jim Rice weren’t Hall-worthy and that current Yankee Andy Pettitte’s admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs puts his Cooperstown credentials in doubt.
Reggie said “no Hall of Famers” would attend the ceremony of any player suspected of using PEDs. The exception could be Pettitte, Jackson said.
"The question is going to be a guy like Andy Pettitte, who admitted that he got involved for a while, but who is so universally respected in the game,” Jackson told ESPN NewYork. “I think he'll get in, but there will be a lot of (members) who won't go."
Jackson, 66, is a special advisor for the Yankees. ESPNNewYork reported that the team was “disappointed” with the statements.
—JOE GREENE, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM