On June 5, 1974, Oakland A’s teammates Reggie Jackson and Billy North engage in a pre-game brawl in the clubhouse at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium, after North gave Jackson a verbal jab that set his superstar teammate over the edge.
Ray Fosse, tries to break up the fight, only to suffer a damaged disc in his neck. Fosse will miss most of the balance of the regular season with a herniated disk.
But the fight wasn’t over yet, that was just round one. Within moments, North and Jackson were at it again, after more words were exchanged. “It wasn’t a regular clubhouse fight,” one A’s teammate said. “There was no backing off. They went at it hot and heavy — twice.”
In round two, observers claimed that Reggie got the worst of the action, ending up pinned to the floor and taking blows to his head. In the fracas, Jackson injured his right shoulder. More teammates jumped in and separated North from Jackson.
The previous year North had shocked his teammates when he suddenly and without provocation threw his bat at the mound towards Doug Bird, setting off a brawl. Asked later why he had done it, North explained that the pitcher had hit him once in a minor league years earlier and this was his first chance to get back at him. North received a fine and suspension for that maneuver.
Jackson will eventually be convinced by owner Charlie Finley to apologize. “I was wrong,” Reggie admitted, “but North has been asking for it.”
Jackson will slump badly after the fight but it will be North who urges Reggie to be a leader on the field if he can’t be in the clubhouse. Jackson will lead the A’s the World Championship for the third straight season.
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