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When Nettles Decked Reggie

By Mike Silva ~ April 29th, 2011. Filed under: NY Baseball Memories.

Dave Winfield was on ESPN Radio earlier this week with Brandon Tierney and Jody McDonald. They were talking about the Mets and Yankees, specifically how Winfield coexisted with Reggie Jackson.

One story that I never heard before was about how Graig Nettles decked Jackson, knocking him out on one punch, after the 1981 playoff series against Oakland.

The Yankees swept the A’s in three games in the ALCS. The team had a party to celebrate and I guess Reggie was being Reggie and Nettles cold clocked him in front of everyone.

By the way Nettles was the MVP of the series as he went 6 for 12 with 9 RBI in the three games.

Does anyone remember this happening? I didn’t realize that Jackson was still at odds with his teammates that late into his Yankees tenure. It’s obviously well known that Nettles was never a big fan.

Jackson would leave for California after the season. Perhaps it’s because his act had an expiration date with the Yankees.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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5 Responses to When Nettles Decked Reggie

  1. Frank Russo


    I do rmember that. From what I remember, it had something to do with Nettle’s wife’s purse. I was never a Reggie fan, so I loved it when that happened.

  2. Billy Pepitone

    Mike, I remember the incident quite well. Apparently during the party Nettles and his wife got up to get food from the buffet. When they returned, Reggie and a female companion were in their seats, and Mrs Nettles purse was thrown on the floor. When Nettles confronted Reggie, Reggie acted as you would expect Reggie to act. One punch later it was over. Nettles was my boyhood idol, so I enjoyed the outcome.

  3. Mikeman

    Anyone that has followed baseball knows Reggie’s reputation so Reggie must’ve had it coming. It probably wasn’t the first or last time he got punched, it’s just the one we heard about. We probably wouldn’t have heard of it if he hadn’t been playing for the yankees at the time.

  4. Russ

    Both discussed the story in their books.

    Nettles & his wife had a table at the team party. They got up and she left her purse there to save the seat. Reggie and a party of personal favorites took the table and Mrs. Nettles’ purse fell to the floor. When they returned his wife accused one of Reggie’s guests of stealing it.

    Reggie cried racism as was his wont at that time. In his defense, Nettles was part of the Billy Martin clique that was known for those types of comments (there was an incident a few years earlier regarding some Anti-Semitic comments towards Ken Holtzman that Nettles was a part of and Reggie over heard). Words were exchanged and punches thrown. Nettles got the best of it (he was known as a good fighter) and Reggie was on the floor and embarrassed in front of his guests.

    Supposedly, it was the last straw in Reggie deciding he wanted out and he signed with California that winter. Later, both Reggie & George said his leaving was a big mistake that they both would have done differently.

    So yeah, the story is true, Nettles did KO Reggie with one punch.

  5. scoobysnack

    I remember hearing this on TV when i was a little kid, but the story i remember hearing was the Graig Nettles popped Reggie Jackson in the mouth. As a young ‘colored’ boy who looked up to RJ at the time and didn’t realize his reputation, I was disappointed that he didn’t hit the guy back. That’s what stuck out for me (as a kid, i only associated knock outs with boxing, but never seen somene get knocked out in a fight, and it wasn’t reported as a KO, merely that he got hit in the mouth)….anyway, now that i’m an adult, I like Graig and Reggie both

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