Reggie Jackson is denying a claim by a former business associate that he may be returning to the New York Yankees, a published report says.
"Honestly, I've heard nothing about it," Jackson told the Orange County, Calif., Register when reached at his Newport Beach residence late Thursday night. "My secretary called me from Oakland five minutes ago and she said an Associated Press reporter called and asked her about my going back to the Yankees. I haven't heard a thing."The former business associate, Bill Goodstein, told the AP on Thursday night that he held discussions with New York Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner earlier this week about Jackson's possible return to the club as a player.
The newspaper, in Friday's editions, quoted Jackson as saying his baseball representatives are Gary Walker, a close friend from his Arizona State days, and attorney Stephen Kay.
"My boys aren't involved are they?" he asked, citing Walker and Kay. "I was in New York for a week last week. Bill Goodstein was a guy I saw in New York and we talked about projects in real estate and other investments. I hadn't seen Bill Goodstein in eight years. I am telling you the truth, honest to God. This one sounds a little goofy."
Jackson emphasized he wouldn't be coming out of retirement.
"Honest to goodness, I will not be in uniform (tonight)," he said. "I'm going to try to get some tickets from (Angels public relations director) Tim Mead or get Wally (Joyner) or someone to leave me some tickets."
But will he be seen in uniform next week, when teams are permitted to expand their rosters to 40 players, Sept. 1?
"No, no way," Jackson said. "You will not see me in uniform. I'm done. Stick a fork in me."
Bill Goodstein said he held discussions with Steinbrenner earlier this week about Jackson's possible return to the club as a player.
According to the agent, Jackson would return for the final month of the season and would make about $100,000 with possible gate incentives.
"Yes, we have made some inquiries," Goodstein said. "We think the Yankees could use Reggie's winning attitude and his experience in the tough pennant race. He may also be able to bring back some of the glory of past championship Yankee teams."
The third-place Yankees trail the Detroit Tigers by 41/2 games in the American League East.
Jackson, 42, retired after spending the 1987 season with the Oakland Athletics.
He finished his career with 563 home runs, sixth on the all-time list. Jackson played for the Yankees from 1977 until 1981 and helped New York win three American League pennants and two World Series titles.
"I have not been formally told this by our people," Yankees media director Harvey Greene said by telephone from Anaheim, Calif., late Thursday night. "Bill Goodstein is a friend of the organization."
Goodstein, who also is the agent for Yankees reliever Dave Righetti, said he discussed the idea with Jackson during a two-hour chance meeting last Saturday. Jackson, who lives in Oakland, Cailf., was in the New York area to appear at a baseball card show.
Goodstein said he talked to Steinbrenner on Monday concerning Jackson's return, adding that the Yankees were considering the possibility but no final deal had been made.
Jackson left the Yankees for the California Angels in 1981 after New York declined to re-sign him. Later, Steinbrenner said one of his biggest errors as owner of the club was letting Jackson get away.
Since Jackson's departure, the Yankees have not won a title of any kind.
In the strike-shortened 1981 season, when Jackson's average slumped to .237 and he dipped to 15 homers and 54 RBI, Steinbrenner angered the outfielder by suggesting that his star slugger take an eye exam.
Jackson rebounded in 1982, and hit 39 home runs with 101 RBI as California won the AL West title.
When Jackson signed as a free agent with the Yankees, he brought with him five years of pennant fever, candy bars and champange.