World Series Champ is an Avid Car Collector
An imposing man sits in a diner, hunched over breakfast, golf cap pulled low, eyes fixed on his phone propped against a napkin dispenser. It’s streaming his beloved Yankees as they battle the Baltimore Orioles.
Glowering at the screen, Reginald Martinez “Reggie” Jackson mows through the $10.95 breakfast special at Angelina’s in Seaside. A reporter sits next to him, waiting for the third out.
Here he’s Señor Octubre, a Hall of Famer known for his World Series heroics each fall. The staff leaves their most famous customer alone to his ballgame, approaching only when he requests “mas tostada y tocino.”
Before the toast and bacon arrive, Yankees’ phenom Aaron Judge sends a pitch high over the fence.
“Special kid,” Jackson murmurs, unfazed.
Jackson recognizes talent (he’s a consultant for the Yankees), but baseball no longer gives him that “juice.” For the man who hit 563 home runs for the Athletics, Orioles, Yankees and Angels, nothing excites him more than a 1957 Chevy, a pristine muscle car, or rebuilding engines.
It’s strange seeing Jackson keep a low profile. At age 22, he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. He helped the A’s win three championships (1972-’74) before taking New York City by storm, winning two titles and anointing himself, “the straw that stirs the drink.”
Now 71, the fit Jackson spends his days at the gym, on the golf course or at his Seaside storage facility housing dozens of classic cars—many triggering the most cherished memories of his storied life.
“I’ve been in the public eye, so this is therapeutic,” he says. “Cars make me feel good. It beats drinking.”
Born outside Philadelphia, Jackson was raised by his father Martinez Jackson (half Puerto Rican), a tailor by trade who once got paid $7 a game to play in the Negro Leagues.
Cars became Reggie’s obsession. He bought his first at age 14, paying $15 for a ’51 Chevy.
“Two-door, 6-cylinder, ran like a top,” he recalls. “No license, but I drove it up and down the block.”
Back then, he says, “Guys wanted to get their wheels, their ‘mah-cheen.’”
Jackson drove a “hoopty,” a clunker. He didn’t care. He had his ride…and a plan.
“I knew cars would be part of my life forever,” he says.
Later, he paid $150 for a 1951 Ford Custom with a Cadillac engine and hub caps. “That was stylin’,” he says. Then he bought a ’55 Chevy for $500. Today, he buys and sells vintage cars and owns one of the most coveted collections in the world.
“It’s romantic, finding out about the cars,” he says. “I enjoy selling to individuals, building relationships.”
With breakfast devoured, Jackson is anxious to head to his nearby sanctuary, a two-room, indoor facility large enough to be divided into streets. There’s 1957 Chevy Dr., Muscle Car Boulevard, Pontiac Circle and other alleyways labeled by signs.
This is no mere man cave. It’s a shrine. A time capsule. Jackson’s passion for bygone days.
“I loved my era,” says Jackson, pushing a broom with his massive, weathered hands. “You left the door to your house open, borrowed milk from neighbors. No craziness.”
Inside sit treasures from the past: old pay phones, Chesterfield cigarette dispensers, soda machines, vintage gas pumps, stadium seats, racks of bats, posters of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and, of course, Reggie in slugger pose.
And there are cars, perhaps 50, among them a 1969 Camaro SS convertible, a 1964 Pontiac GTO with MR OCTBR plates, a wing of classic Corvettes, including a gorgeous white 1962 convertible with 4,000 miles, and an “untouched” 1970 Chevelle with a 454.
This is more than a vanity project. This is his financial future, his true legacy, a business built around passion—and his impressive knowledge of automobiles.
There are more cars at his house above Carmel. We arrive and he reveals his baby, a ’76 Rolls Royce Corniche with a mirrored maroon finish.
One day in 1976, he showed up to a San Francisco Rolls dealership—his Yankees’ contract still wet with ink.
“No one would wait on a black man wearing jeans and a T-shirt,” he says.
The car called to him. Finally, a black salesman approached and shook the hand of the game’s most fearsome hitter.
“He recognized me,” Jackson says. “I drove away in my car. Paid 55K for it.”
He stares at it, 41 years later. It represents who he was, and what he endured to get here.
“It drives like you’re sitting in your living room,” he says, wiping away an imperceptible fuzzball.
“I could sell it in five minutes. But I’m going to die with this old girl.”
Not that he’s ready to cash in.
“Life is good,” Jackson says. “I have my health. I’m very grateful that God put all this in my path.”
To view the gallery and/or make a bid on Reggie Jackson’s classic cars currently up for sale, or to shop for hard-to-find parts and accessories, visit www.reggiesgarage.com.