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Jackson: Martin anti-Semitic toward Holtzman

Reggie Jackson recounts in a taped interview with MSG a 1978 incident in which Billy Martin told an anti-Semitic joke aimed at Yankees pitcher Ken Holtzman.

Jackson adds he wondered whether such feelings might have colored Martin's use of the pitcher, which was limited.

"That's a terrific question,'' he tells his friend and former teammate, Fran Healy. "That's a question I thought about a lot.''

The comments about Martin and Holtzman were part of a wide-ranging interview conducted for MSG's "Summer of '77'' series, debuting Sunday, in which new interviews supplement the reshowing of ESPN's series, "The Bronx is Burning.'' (Cablevision owns both Newsday and MSG.)

Many who were around the Yankees that season believe the series unfairly and inaccurately portrayed Jackson.

Jackson thought he and Martin would get along better in '78, but he was turned off in spring training when he heard "a group of players and Billy telling an anti-Semitic joke about Holtzman, who is Jewish.

"I was getting ready to hit and I said, 'I wonder if they know I am standing here and they are talking about that and I am a minority? Why would they do that?' ''

Jackson speaks warmly of his relationship with George Steinbrenner, less so of relationships with most teammates.

"Players wouldn't talk to me,'' he said. "There were certainly, I was going to say there were factions, but there really weren't factions because I had like three or four friends and 22 guys that didn't talk to me.'' -- NEIL BEST


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