Updated: Dec 6, 2021
The strikeout is baseball's emblem to futility.
Whether by "swing and a miss" or by watching the ball cross home plate to the umpire‘s shout of "strike three!" THE strikeout is the team sport's measurement, of an individual's failure.
After a strikeout all action stops while the batter, alone in their failure and sullen, walks back to the dugout. Each pace, taken while fans express their opinion of the batter's recent performance.
In the history of Major League Baseball no batter has made the lonely post-strikeout walk to the dugout more than Reggie Jackson.
Of the 11,418 plate appearances Reggie Jackson made during his 21-year career with the Oakland A’s, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees or California Angels between 1967-1987, the free-swinging left-hander struck out 2,597 times. A strikeout rate of 23%.
Nearly double the average in Major League Baseball during that time!
A baseball fan might say that Reggie, “Always took a good rip.” The slugger known for a swing so powerful that missing left Reggie contorted and spun 180-degrees from where he had begun.
Reggie knew that it was his powerful swing which when he made contact, propelled the towering home runs he was also known for.
So he never let a strikeout cost him his confidence!
During an interview with Sports Magazine in 1976 after Reggie signed a five-year, $3.5 million contract to play right field for the New York Yankees (the biggest contract in baseball history at that time), Reggie was asked what his role would be on a team which had made it to the World Series just the previous year?
The strikeout king not known for humility replied, “I’m the straw which stirs the drink!”
Swing! And a Miss
THE word strikeout of course is no longer reserved for use exclusively in baseball. The term, having made the jump from America's Pastime to American’s lexicon, now used to characterize any failure.
"Did you get your hands on any latex eggshell base one?" The paint dealer asked his buyer.
"No, I struck out!"
While working on my Revolution, THE digital platform for paint dealers with e-commerce and point-of-sale fully integrated, I gave some directions to the development team which ended up being I’ll-advised.
A swing and a miss for an e-commerce executive.
The “strikeout” forcing me to adjust my timing longer than made me happy. My anxiety added to because I’m the one paying for that time!
After a weekend lamenting my misstep, I began work on my plan to get the project back on schedule. And I started thinking about Reggie Jackson.
Reggie knew, better than anyone who has ever played the game, that strikeouts happen and that it's what you do in between the strikeouts which gets your name on a candy bar!
In his 21-year career Reggie’s strikeout swing was enough to get the star elected to14 All-Star teams.
His 563-career regular season home runs placed Reggie eighth on the all-time career home run list at the time of his retirement in 1987. Reggie adding his name to the iconic list already populated with THE names: Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays.
Including the strikeouts, Reggie's accomplishments in the batter's box earned him a spot in baseball’s Hall of Fame, Reggie elected in his first year of eligibility, receiving 94% of the vote.
In a speech marking his Hall of Fame induction, Reggie made no mention of his proclivity for striking out.
In the five World Series Reggie Jackson played in he hit 10 home-runs and had 24 runs batted in. The future Hall of Famer winning the Most Valuable Player award in baseball's October championships in 1973 and 1977.
But it was after striking out four times in the first two games of the World Series in 1977, Reggie showed Yankee fans why he never worried when his powerful swing failed to yield contact with the ball.
After hitting home runs in two of the next three games, Reggie Jackson and the Yankees got to THE Stadium on October 18, 1977 needing to win just one game against their rival Los Angeles Dodgers to become World Series champions for just the first time a 14-year-old baseball fan's life.
In each of his three official at-bats that game Reggie needed a single pitch to launch a home run into THE Bronx night. His three home runs in a single World Series game a feat performed by only one other major leaguer in history: Babe Ruth.
Earning Reggie the nickname, “Mr. October.”
With material and labor shortages continuing to plague this era, independent paint dealers are working in the most challenging environment any current dealers are likely to have experienced in their careers.
Some I speak with lamenting their high strikeout rate; unable at-times to acquire the products needed to fill the shelves or hire the bodies needed to staff the counters.
The hours of futility leaving dealers feeling like Reggie Jackson after one of his encompassing strikeouts. Untangling their body’s from a day spent swinging hard, but often missing the ball.
Strikeouts happen. But no one will remember them when they’re chanting your name tomorrow.