Delta New York Yankee, Jack ReedBy BY MARK H. STOWERS COLUMNIST,
Good Mornin’! Good Mornin’!
Writing about the heat, I pretty much feel like one of my idols, the late Johnny Carson, when asked, how hot is it?
It’s so hot that everyone is wearing “sweat” pants! …bah dum bum…I’m here all week folks!
But anyway, the boys of summer have kicked off the MLB playoffs and all you need to know is “Go Yankees!” but I’m sure my boss will disagree and move his Atlanta Braves into the argument.
I just wish we could give him back the Houston Astros to play with on their side of things. I grew up a Yankees fan, with the St. Louis Cardinals a distant second but that’s because of listening to former Cardinal pitcher Dizzy Dean on the AM radio back in the day calling games with the incredible Jack Buck. And the summer of ’77 when the late Bill Jacobs packed up his Suburban with the Inverness Pony League team to see several Cardinal games in St. Louis.
We didn’t get the AM waves coming from New York to pick up Yankee broadcasts but they played in plenty Games of the Week on national TV that infiltrated my Macon Lake haven.
I got fully attached to the Yankees thanks to the guy who backed up Mickey Mantle. Jack Reed from Silver City, former Ole Miss Rebel dual athlete (played safety for Coach Vaught and baseball for Coach Swayze) was drafted by the Yankees in the mid 1950s and worked his way through the minor leagues and even met Fidel Castro when Reed’s International League team stopped by Cuba for a game.
Back then tons of talented players never made it to the big leagues as teams would stash talent so others didn’t have a chance.
The Yankees had 17 minor league teams, the Cardinals had 32 and the Dodgers had 30, according to Reed.
“The only way to know if you had made it to the big leagues was by the number you were assigned in spring training,” Reed explained to me more than a decade ago. “Pete Sheehy, long time clubhouse man, gave me number 15 and I said, “is this true?” He said, “yes” and I played for three years.
Those years included three World Series Rings (two as a winner) and one home run.
The man he backed up had 548 in his career but Reed’s was special. In June of 1962, the Detroit Tigers hosted the Yankees in one of those Game of the Week matchups. It started at 1:00 p.m. but went 22 innings.
The late great Tiger broadcaster, Ernie Harwell told me, “It went seven hours and they played just about everybody on each team.”
The game was tied at 7 each after six innings but neither team could score for the next 16.
That is until Reed came up in the top of the 22nd and blasted a home run off of Phil Regan, according to Harwell.
“That was my claim to fame,” Reed said. “But the game went so long that TV ended in the 13th inning.”
After his playing career Reed managed in the Yankee system before coming home to the Delta and taking over his father’s farm. It was 1977 when Reed ambled into the old CDA lunchroom where our annual Athletic Banquet was held.
He spun stories that night of his time in Yankee stadium riding the bench but having a front row seat to baseball glory.
His tales cemented my Yankee fandom that night. My favorite story was when he told us that in 1962, “Mickey Mantle and I made $150,000. Mickey made $125,000 and I made $25,000.”
Cheer for your favorite team but know the Yankees have Delta roots and that’s always a great thing, especially if we go into extra innings. #GoYankees!