It is a long way from the farmlands of Silver City, Mississippi, to Broadway and the bright lights of New York City.

Jack Reed made the long trek back in 1961 as he was a member of one of the greatest Major League baseball teams in the history of the game. The Bronx Bombers, as they were affectionately called, smashed a baseball record 240 home runs, led by the famous duo of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.

Reed played in New York from 1961-63 and won two world championships for the Yankees in 1961 and 1962.

“The one thing I learned playing with those guys was that we really believed we were going to win every game,” said Reed.

Reed says with players like Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubek, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Elston Howard, “Moose” Showron, Yogi Berra and Clete Boyer, he still considers that 1961 team one of the best ever.  “You know everyone’s attention was on Roger and Mickey chasing Babe Ruth’s single season home run record. Maris hit 61 home runs while Mantle blasted 54 home runs, but we also had three catchers that year that ended up hitting 63 home runs as a group,” stated the former Ole Miss football and baseball player.

Yogi, Elston and Johnny Blanchard hit 22, 21 and 21 home runs respectively for the ‘61 Yankees.  Bill Skowron also smashed 28 dingers during the first 162-game Major League season. Reed was also part of the home run record as he hit his only Major League home run during a 22-inning, seven-hour Yankee win against Detroit that summer.  Reed hit his home run off Phil Reagan in the top of the 22nd inning. Reed came in the game in the 13th inning to replace Mantle.

“I had faced Reagan in the minors and just got lucky. I knew I hit the ball solid, but didn’t think it was going out until the umpire told me as I got close to second base,” stated Reed.

Reed was used mostly as a late inning defensive replacement for Mantle during his three seasons in New York.  “Yankee manager Ralph Houk called me before the ‘61 season and told me what my role would be during my first season. My job was to help prolong Mantle’s career. I was called his ‘caddie’,” said a laughing Reed.

The 1961 team won 109 games during the regular season and whipped the Cincinnati Reds in five games in the World Series. Reed played in three of the five games. The Yankees followed that up with another title in 1962. Reed’s last year in New York was the 1963 season when the Los Angeles Dodgers swept the Yankees in four games behind the pitching of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale in the World Series. Reed still says Koufax was the best opposing pitcher in the game during his career in the Majors.

Reed played in 222 games for the Yankees in his three years. He hit .302 in 88 games during the 1962 season. He retired from playing after the 1963 season and coached or managed for four years in the Yankee farm system before coming home to Silver City to run the 2,000-acre family farm.

Reed is only one of four people to play in a World Series game and also play in a New Year’s Day Bowl game. He played in the 1953 Sugar Bowl for Ole Miss. Deion Sanders, Jackie Jensen and Chuck Essegian are the others.

 

Hall of Fame Inductions

The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame inducted the 2018 class this past weekend. Billy Brewer, Anna Jackson, Mike Jones, Archie Moore, Lafayette Stribling and Joe Walker Jr. joined the elite club. Tyrone Keys received the lifetime achievement award for Mississippi sports – The Rube Award – named in honor of Michael Rubenstein.

Chipper Jones was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this past weekend. Chipper is one of the top three switch hitters in Major League baseball history. Jones’s career batting average from the left side was .303 and .304 from the right side in his 18-year career for the Atlanta Braves.

  Dale McKee, a resident of Waynesboro, has covered Mississippi sports for more than 45 years. He writes a weekly sports column. You can contact Dale at ddmckee18@yahoo.com