Despite its flaws, you should enjoy Reggie: The Autobiography by Reggie Jackson with Mike Lupica (Villard Books, $15.95). You won't find much new in it if you're a fairly serious baseball fan, but that's basically (a word Reggie, or Lupica, has fallen in love with; I lost count of how often it's used) the point. Books written by highly hyped athletes about themselves are not meant to tell you everything you always wanted to know about them. They tell you everything you already know, on the theory that that's why you fell in love with them in the first place. Here are all those delightfully familiar stories—Reggie vs. George, Reggie vs. Graig, Reggie vs. Billy—filtered through the Jackson ego, which is roughly the size of the Matterhorn. A number of people have written books lately basically to bitch about George. Reggie is no exception. He bitches about George, but he can bitch about Charlie (Finley), too. And does. That "and does," by the way, typifies the junk-writing style so neatly perfected in Reggie:
Grabbed my bat.
Hit a dinger.
The example is a paraphrase, but you get the idea. You'll lose count of the sequences of sentences starting with verbs, meant to show how tough-talking athletes really are. On the other hand, there's a fine bit about what the sanctity of the clubhouse means to ballplayers, and a touching vignette of Reggie visiting Bob Lemon in the middle of the night after Lemon was fired by George. Reggie says Finley "was the first man to see speed as a consistent force in the arsenal of a major league team," which is a silly statement unless you believe the sport was born in, say, 1965. He also says that before Steinbrenner took him to lunch at '21' on the day they first met, "I had never worn a tie to lunch in my entire life." Now how can you not like a guy who admits that, or not enjoy his book?