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American League Notes : Mr. October Praises Brett but Says Month Begins With the Series

October 13, 1985|ROSS NEWHAN | Times Staff Writer

KANSAS CITY — Can there be more than one Mr. October? Is such a thing possible?

Reggie Jackson, the original, pondered the question when reached by phone at his Berkeley condominium Saturday.

"If you want to nit-pick," Jackson said, "you've got to do it (perform outstandingly) in the World Series. It really only counts in the World Series.

"I mean, you've got to get there, then you've got to do it."

The call to Jackson came in the aftermath of George Brett's electric performance in Friday night's third game of the AL Championship Series between Kansas City and Toronto.

The Royals' Brett homered twice, doubled and singled. He emerged with a number of career playoff records, including two previously owned by Jackson. Brett took the playoff record for career hits away from Jackson, 34 to 32. He broke a tie with Jackson for career playoff homers, 8-6.

This is Brett's sixth playoff. He went into Saturday night's game with a .370 career average contrasted to Jackson's .234 for 10 playoffs.

Brett, however, has appeared in only one World Series, batting .375 with one homer and three RBIs in the six games against Philadelphia in 1980.

Jackson helped take the Oakland A's and New York Yankees into six World Series. He has a .357 average, 10 homers and 24 RBIs in 27 World Series games.

He has also hit 18 postseason homers (including 2 in the 1981 miniseries between New York and Milwaukee), a record he shares with Mickey Mantle. He also still holds a number of career playoff records, including most RBIs (18) and most times on a winning club (6).

Jackson said he wasn't nit-picking, wasn't taking anything away from Brett.

"I've seen him do this before," Jackson said. "He's simply proving again that he's one of the great clutch hitters.

"Who's the best? Who knows? When a guy is doing some of the things George is, you tend to say, 'How could anyone have ever been better? How could anyone be better?'

"But I saw Frank Robinson have a great World Series in '66 and Al Kaline have a tremendous finish in '68. The best postseason I've ever seen, including some of Reggie Jackson's, was Yaz (Carl Yastrzemski) in '67.

"There's more than one penthouse in any one town, and if I'm allowed on the same floor as some of the greats of the past, that's honor enough."

Asked if Brett was on the same floor, Jackson said:

"He's there. I mean, to say only that he's the difference in the Kansas City team is not to give him enough credit. The home run he hit against John Candelaria (in the opener of the four-game September series against the Angels) got him started, and he hasn't stopped yet (the two Friday night homers gave him seven in nine games).

"He's why we (the Angels) didn't win. That and blowing that Saturday game in Cleveland (when the Angels led, 5-0, after seven innings). That still hurts."

Jackson, however, is headed for the World Series even if the Angels aren't.

Mr. October will be discussing the contenders for his title as an ABC analyst.

Brett Postscript: The icing on his performance was the fact that he caught the final pop-up, then gave the ball to Manager Dick Howser, who had been 0-11 as a playoff manager with the Royals.

"Here, Skip, it's been a long time coming," Brett said. "Enjoy it."

Said Howser: "It's something of a Hall of Shame ball, but I'll keep it anyway. I don't keep many baseballs, but I've got the ball from my first win as the Yankees' manager and the one from my first win as the manager of this club. This makes the third."

How hot is Brett? He even won a pool held among his house guests on Saturday's Dodger-St. Louis game, drawing the number 6, which is what the 4-2 score totaled.

Of his remarkable performance Friday night, Brett said: "I really haven't had time to think about it. The phone rang off the bleeping hook today. I'm sure when I'm sitting by the pool in Palm Springs this winter, I'll be able to look back and smile. It might have been my best ever."

With pinch hits by Cecil Fielder and Al Oliver Saturday night, Toronto pinch-hitters are 5 for 6 against the Royals, whose own pinch-hitters are 2 for 4.

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