Reggie Jackson, known for his on-again, off-again relationship with George Steinbrenner during his playing days, issued a statement late Wednesday night expressing warm feelings about the late owner.
"Upon hearing of Mr. Steinbrenner's passing early Tuesday morning, the last two days have been filled with great emotion and personal reflection," he said in a statement released by the team's public relations department at 11:34 p.m. Wednesday.
"The relationship I shared with The Boss is one that both heartens and comforts me during this difficult time. He meant so much to so many people, and I will always cherish him as a leader, a winner, and a friend."
"Mr. October" often butted heads with Steinbrenner and manager Billy Martin during his stint with the Yankees from 1977-1981. Jackson's frequent quarrels with Martin and occasional jabs at Steinbrenner helped fuel the dysfunction of the Yankees' "Bronx Zoo" era.
Jackson - who earned five world championship rings with the Oakland Athletics and Yankees and hit three homers on three straight swings in the deciding Game 6 of the 1977 World Series - eventually wore out his welcome with the Yankees and signed with the California Angels for the 1982 season. But Steinbrenner and Jackson later reconciled and the owner appointed Jackson as a special adviser, a position he still holds.
Said Jackson, "While I look forward to honoring and celebrating Mr. Steinbrenner's life with his family and loved ones, I am taking this time to reflect on the enormous and lasting imprint he made within the game of baseball, throughout the Yankees' organization, and in my life."
Jackson is expected to attend tomorrow's Old-Timers' Day at the Stadium.
Bernie makes statement
Former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams said in a statement: " . . . I will forever be grateful to Mr. Steinbrenner for allowing me to become part of the Yankee organization and then stay a Yankee for my entire career . . . No one wanted to win more than Mr. Steinbrenner, and he did whatever it took to put his team in the best position to win . . . Year in and year out, inspired by his commitment to excellence, I always knew I had to be at the very top of my game to meet the high expectations he set. He made me a better baseball player- and for that, I will be forever grateful to him. He will be missed, and never forgotten."