OAKLAND — Reggie Jackson extolled the virtues of the other members of the Athletics’ inaugural Hall of Fame class at the start of his speech on the Coliseum’s infield grass on Wednesday night.
Yes, the same turf — or at least the same plot of land — that he played on 50 years ago.
Jackson, 72, would like that to change for future hall of fame induction ceremonies.
During the final part of his speech, Jackson said how special it would be to see the A’s construct a new ballpark, “and to have the city do their best to retain the team.”
“I’m thankful that the Fisher family came along to try to make sure this ballpark gets built,” Jackson said. “and to make sure the Oakland A’s stay here in the East Bay.”
In December, the Peralta Community College board of trustees ended talks with the A’s over a proposed stadium near Laney College. Right now, the A’s are studying both the Coliseum site and Howard Terminal as possible locations for a new ballpark in Oakland.
Last month, the San Francisco Chronicle first reported that the A’s have hired Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) to oversee planning for the two possible locations for a new privately financed facility, which the team hopes is open by 2023.
The A’s current lease at the Coliseum ends in 2024.
Thinking about how the A’s might also not be in Oakland long-term, Jackson, who still has a home in the Berkeley hills, said he might have been more emotional during his speech here than he was in 1993, when he gave his induction speech for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Speaking to reporters during Wednesday’s A’s-Yankees game, Jackson knows the A’s are “struggling to get fans in the ballpark and get a new stadium. That kind of stuff gets into my mind, gets in my head, and I kind of hope and pray that it doesn’t end. It would break my heart if it did.
“So, I kind of go there, and I guess that’s where the emotional part comes in. Hopefully it continues, and that John Fisher and his family keep it here.
“The football team is gone, the basketball team is gone. I don’t know what’s going on, but it would sure break my heart if the baseball team left.”
Jackson was also asked about the potential of the A’s and the Yankees meeting in the American League Wild Card game.
“Well, at this particular point, I hope we don’t run into (the A’s),” said Jackson, a Yankees employee. “No, I’ll be excited if we get a chance to go back there or if they come back to us. If we run into them, we run into them.”