Why Reggie Jackson's time with A's holds special place in his heart

Why Reggie Jackson's time with A's holds special place in his heart

Reggie Jackson’s time with the A’s wasn’t short-lived by any means, but it’s fair to say fans would have loved to see him sport the green and gold forever. In his heart, however, he does. 

Mr. October’s 10 years with the team earned six of his 14 total All-Star selections across the Hall of Fame outfielder's 21-year career. And he enjoyed every moment he spent with Oakland.

Jackson was part of the team’s dynasty in the 1970s that created the “The Swingin’ A’s.” The team won three consecutive World Series from 1972-74. 

“I’m a proud Oakland A with all the championship teams,” Jackson told The Chronicle’s Susan Slusser. “The team we had there is one of the great dynasties in all of baseball.”

Jackson even told NBC Sports California’s Monte Poole he believed those teams were better than his time with the New York Yankees. The A's were the best team he’s ever played on, he said. 

He admitted he approaches both of the teams differently, but said if there was a way to hypothetically put both him and Hall of Fame pitcher Catfish Hunter on both squads, the A’s would have better pitching and a better outfield. 

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Jackson said there’s a special place in his heart for the A’s, and despite all the talks, he would be disappointed to see them leave Oakland amid the possible relocation rumors.

“It would break my heart to see them leave,” he told Slusser. “I’m an Oakland A in my heart forever. It’s where I started, it’s where I have family. I still own a home there. I’ve got nothing bad to say about Oakland or anyone in the organization.”

Ramón Laureano: Everything to know about A's do-it-all outfielder

Ramón Laureano: Everything to know about A's do-it-all outfielder

One thing that most of us reading this never will have to do is test Ramón Laureano's defense in center field. We can thank our lucky stars for that.

He also had possibly one of the best catches of the season in 2019 when -- well, just watch:

Shameless NBC Sports California plug aside, Laureano made that catch look easy, robbing Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto of a home run in the process.

So we know he can catch, he can throw, he can hit and do all of the typical baseball things. But what else?

The numbers

It has to be said we have yet to see the best of Laureano.

The 25-year-old slashed .288/.340/.521 last season which, was good for an .860 OPS.

Then there’s that arm. 

Laureano is properly nicknamed “Lazor” for the way he’s able to dart a ball from the deepest point of center field to anywhere there was a runner attempting to get an extra bag.

It was one night in August 2018 against the Los Angeles Angels when an “Oh my God!” was shouted by NBC Sports California’s Dallas Braden on the broadcast to see Laureano throw from center TO FIRST BASE for a double play. At 321 feet, it had been the longest throw to complete a double play in the Statcast era.

The background

Born in the Dominican Republic, Laureano was drafted out of Northeast Oklahoma A&M in the 16th round of the MLB draft by the Houston Astros in 2014, and was traded to the A’s in 2017 for minor leaguer Brandon Bailey. He made his A’s big league debut on Aug. 3, 2018, against Detroit. 

When Laureano was a younger prospect, he was compared to another Astros youngster Teoscar Hernandez in a scouting report by MLB Pipeline in 2017, but was said to be more of a “pure hitter" with less power potential. He was also called an “above average defender,” which we already knew.

If you’re a fantasy baseball player, he’s also listed as a top-30 outfielder heading into the 2020 season.

Now for the important stuff

Long-time friend of Laureano, Ricky Rivera, gave NBC Sports California some details about the star-studded outfielder’s off-the-field hobbies.

During quarantine, Laureano picked up golf and really wanted to perfect his craft at playing the video game MLB: The Show. He was playing the game a lot during quarantine to pass the time and had a group of eight or so guys get together and play. It sounds like it got quite competitive as well.

He’s also a dog lover, as Rivera described. Which at first, he didn’t think was a very random fact about Laureano, but we can all agree dog people are the best people.

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If you look anywhere for content written about Laureano, one notion that sticks out is his work ethic. In an interview with Rivera, who played with him at Northeast Oklahoma A&M, he said even though they were on the same team, Laureano would arrive at practice hours earlier. He was probably also the last one to leave.

“He’s always working out or talking baseball,” Rivera said.

It shows. 

A's tentative 2021 MLB schedule includes Astros, Dodgers in opening week

A's tentative 2021 MLB schedule includes Astros, Dodgers in opening week

Before 2020’s regular season officially has begun, MLB announced the tentative schedules of all 30 clubs for the 2021 season on Thursday. The A’s open up the 2021 campaign at home against the Houston Astros on April 1.

This also will be the first time since 1968 all 30 teams will play their first game of the season on the same day.

April also will see the A's face the possibly Mookie Betts-less Los Angeles Dodgers right after the opening series against the Astros. After that, the A's head to Minute Maid Park for another duel with the Astros. That’s quite a competitive sandwich. But the balls tend to fly there which is a boost for the A's. 

For the most part, the 2021 season is expected to be regularly-scheduled programming after the odd 2020 60-game season caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

If things stay the same, which is never the case in baseball, there shouldn’t be too many surprises for Oakland next season as far as the competitive circuit goes. 

The Battle of Bay against the geographically rivaled Giants will take place three times in 2021. The first being an exhibition series, as the teams usually play, taking place on March 28-29. During the regular season, they will meet back at Oracle Park on June 25-27 and later at the Coliseum on Aug. 20-22. After that, the New York Yankees come to town on Aug. 26-28. 

The A’s will also host the Boston Red Sox on July 4th and wrap up the season on the road against the Astros on Oct. 1-3.

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Here’s a look at the entire tentative schedule: