These days, at the age of 70, baseball Hall of Famer and long-time and well-known car collector Reggie Jackson is selling a lot more cars than he’s buying.
“It’s time to turn them over,” Jackson said while leading a search through the nooks and crannies of his garage for the hubcaps missing from a 1965 Chevrolet Corvette coupe that’s headed to the Rick Cole Auction this week on California’s Monterey Peninsula.
“God let me do what I wanted to do,” Jackson said in a tone of sincere gratitude as he surveyed Reggie’s Cars, his own collector car sales facility in Seaside. “It’s time for someone else to enjoy things.”
Earlier this year, Jackson became a partner in the Cole auction company. He’s known Cole for some 30 years and helped the company’s other partner, Terry Price, enter the collector car hobby. Jackson said he’s been interested in joining an auction company for many years, and the opportunity finally was presented.
Jackson has been a car collector since he signed his first major league baseball contract, he said, recalling the 1967 Pontiac Catalina, “421 with a four speed, burgundy with a black vinyl top, and a four-track stereo,” he bought with his signing bonus from the Kansas City — and soon to be Oakland — A’s.
But Jackson’s passion for cars goes back to his childhood in Pennsylvania when he’d sit on the porch with his family and they’d see who could provide the most information about cars that drove past. And it wasn’t just year, make and model, Jackson said. You also had to identify the engine and the specific name of the car’s color to earn either a glass of Kool-Aid or half a popsicle.
Going to such depths has served Jackson well as a car collector. Seemingly every car he sells comes with an interesting story that he’s eager to share. There’s the 1937 Ford Deluxe formerly owned by Ralph Earnhardt, father of Dale and grandfather of Dale Jr.; Jackson takes out his smart phone and uses the flashlight to point to where Ralph’s name stamped into the manifold.
There’s the Rolls-Royce that Jackson bought the day after he spectacularly hit three home runs in one game in the 1977 World Series as the New York Yankees beat the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jackson drove the car back to his home in California. En route, he was stopped five times by the police — but received no tickets even though he admitted to triple-digit driving.
Hearing he was coming their way, the officers merely wanted to meet the baseball hero, who at the time of CB radios had the “Candy Man” handle because of the Reggie Bar he was promoting.
He also raises the hood to show the 427 powerplant in the 1955 Chevy he put together years ago, his 427 Cobra, the hot rod he’s had since 1976, and the pride is obvious for his 1970 Chevelle LS6, a car that was his daily driver to and from the ball park and which still carries the notebook in which he carefully recorded oil changes and other maintenance details.
Jackson’s personal automotive tastes trend toward muscle cars and early Corvettes, cars to his eyes that appear to be moving even when they are parked, cars that he thinks will still be cherish 50 years from now because of designs he considers to be timeless.
Asked if he knows his baseball stats as well as the specs of his cars, Jackson said yes. But the first (and only) baseball stat he volunteered was the fact that he struck out more than any other major leaguer.
He was much more eager to talk about the Mr. October Foundation, which provides STEM — science, technology, engineering and mat — learning opportunities for young people in the Bronx with as many as 50 each summer traveling to the engineering school at Georgia Tech.
“I’ve been fortunate,” Jackson said, adding that through his foundation, “I’m trying to make a difference and help.”
He said he also sees becoming involved in the auction as a form of service to the collector car community. In fact, he said, he doesn’t see much of a change in his role from collector to seller.
“It’s a wonderful hobby.
“You want to get good cars,” he said, though now those cars are to sell, not for his own collection, “and to provide a service for people.”