When the Oakland Athletics won three consecutive World Series titles in the 1970s, Reggie Jackson was the team’s cornerstone player.
Three decades later, he had a chance to be a part of an ownership group but was denied the chance. So, what happened?
According to Jackson, the issue was not money. In fact, Jackson and his group was willing to pay more than anyone else. The issue was Bud Selig, the then-commissioner of Major League Baseball.
Jackson was a guest on The Howard Stern Show on Wednesday and shared his story.
“In writing, I sent a letter to Ken Hoffman, who owned the A’s, that I’m willing to pay $25 million more than any bid that you get. Bud said to me, he said ‘Reggie, stay with me. I’ll guide you through. I’ll get this done for you,'” Jackson said. “And then all of a sudden it came out that the A’s were sold to a guy by the name of Lew Wolff — Bud Selig’s college buddy. It broke my heart. I went into depression for about six months.”
Stern then asked Jackson if the owners agreed to keep Jackson out, noting his reputation as a “troublemaker.”
“I absolutely believe that,” Jackson said. “And I absolutely believe that Bud was the guy involved that denied me from getting a team. I had a 100-page lawsuit drawn up, I still have the deck — about 3-4 inches thick. And there’s six inches of text messages and all that kind of stuff that went back-and-forth. I never filed it.”
“I got scared away by some people in baseball. They said, ‘Reggie, the first thing you have to do is resign from baseball — from the Yankees. And you probably won’t get hired again. And you probably won’t this and you probably won’t that.’ And I didn’t know enough about the legal system, etc. I should have sued. I didn’t. It’s obviously still in my craw.
I get a chance to talk about it now. I do have backup for it. I’ve got a letter that is in writing, dating December of 2002 or 2003. I put a group together with BIll Gates, Paul Allen and a guy named John McCaw. I could have bought the National League.”
Hoffman sold the A’s to Wolff and his partner, John Fisher, in 2005. In 2016, Wolff sold his shares and Fisher has been the team’s sole principal owner since.
While the A’s have operated on the field better than a lot of small market teams, they’ve consistently done so on a shoestring budget. That has led to numerous fan favorite players being traded in their primes. While not the sole reason, it’s also contributed to the team’s consistently poor attendance in Oakland. With that, the threat of relocation has been constant.
And following Jackson’s comments, several baseball fans sounded off against Selig
Yet another reason Bud Selig was terrible for baseball. https://t.co/GDPcUbayId
— Baseball Pods (@baseballpods) March 22, 2023
We could have kept all our 150 great players we’ve lost since https://t.co/riDcWFIb9m
— Jose Fermoso (@fermoso) March 23, 2023
— Barry M. Bloom (@Boomskie) March 23, 2023
Thanks, Bud … for nothing. https://t.co/q6IKgfeU0a
— Chuck Barney (@chuckbarney) March 23, 2023
— Tim Ehrhardt (@PaysonAZTim) March 22, 2023
Said it before and I’ll say it again: Lew Wolff was by far the worst thing to happen to the Oakland A’s in recent memory. https://t.co/v17rWwYWlE
— OaklandStadiumWatch (@OakStadiumWatch) March 22, 2023
Bud Selig was the wooooooooorst https://t.co/KfPkrwlN4A
— Stacey Gotsulias (@StaceGots) March 23, 2023