Reggie: Billy Martin used racial epithets

10/28/2011 - MLB New York Yankees

Former New York Yankees great Reggie Jackson told the MLB Network the late Billy Martin used racist and anti-Semitic epithets when he managed Jackson and other players.

"I never had an understanding of Billy Martin. I did not accept the way he managed me," Jackson said in an interview with Bob Costas scheduled to air at 9 p.m. ET Monday on the MLB Network. "I did not accept the way he managed Ken Holtzman. I thought there was anti-Semitism there.

"I couldn't accept that. I couldn't accept the racial epithets in reference to players like Elliott Maddox or Billy Sample. There are players that played for him that would tell you that. So there was an uneasiness, a knowledge about the person that I was very uncomfortable with. ... I wasn't his choice and he wanted to show George (Steinbrenner). So that was kind of an oddity, a craziness that I never could follow, and I struggled to have respect for Billy as a person and had it reinforced with the anti-Semitism that I witnessed."

The New York Daily News asked Jackson to clarify his remarks on Thursday. He told the newspaper he was trying to educate, not "trample on a man's grave."

"If somebody asks you what it was like and you're my age (65), you can't run from the truth," Jackson told the newspaper. "This is what it was. Has (society) changed? Yes. Has it changed enough? No.

"Someone needs to know that this is what happened. I don't hold anybody responsible. I have forgiven, but not forgotten and the minorities of the world have experienced it, not just me. Let this be a reminder that we need to be a little bit better."

Jackson was asked how often Martin used such language.

"Sometimes," he said. "It wasn't all the time."

Jackson hit three home runs in the clinching Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, earning the nickname "Mr. October." He starred again in the Series the next year as the Yankees won another title.

The relationship between Jackson and Martin was a tumultuous one, played out against a backdrop of what became known as "The Bronx Zoo."

"He was a guy I never got to know really well. Obviously, we didn't see eye to eye," Jackson said.

Martin died in a car crash on Christmas Day in 1989.

Jackson hit 563 career home runs in a career that lasted through 1987. He says he was aware some players were using performance-enhancing drugs at the time.

"When (Jose) Canseco came in, he talked about steroid use fairly openly and when I was playing with Mark McGwire, he was not suspect, didn't have the size and he was not a steroid user," Jackson told the MLB Network. "McGwire, (Barry) Bonds, (Roger) Clemens -- these guys were great players without PEDs. Would Canseco have his 460 or 470 home runs without? Probably not. McGwire hits 480 or 500. Bonds hits 600. Clemens wins 320."

"The sad part of that, too, is when you see the great players like Prince Fielder and great players like (Albert) Pujols, it makes you unfairly question," Jackson said.

He said he ran across someone Friday who was aware Jackson had referenced current players in his remarks.

"He said to me, 'Why did you have to mention those guys?" Jackson said. "I told him that's what those guys who used steroids did to the game. They raised suspicions all over baseball."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.