9 Democracy and
Dissent: Why America
Needs Reggie Jackson
If the world were a perfect place, it wouldn't be.
—Yogi Berra, baseball philosopher
Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Willie Stargell was never much of a singer. And yet, there he was in October, 1979, all over the local television and radio shows, leading a host of tone-deaf Pirates in a rousing rendition of Sister Sledge's hit single, “We are Family.” Down 3 games to 1 to the formidable Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh's adopted anthem never seemed more fitting. The Pirates loved their coaches, their fans, and especially their captain Stargell, affectionately nicknamed “Pops.” The soon-to-be comeback World Series champions really were a family.
What a difference a year makes.
When the New York Yankees won the World Series in 1978, nobody was singing songs of familial love. Their manager had resigned midway through the season after a nervous breakdown, their solitary captain was barely on speaking terms with the team's superstar, and throughout the year, the press was awash with stories of backstabbing and infighting. The famous words of nineteenth-century novelist Leo Tolstoy rang true: “All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Obviously, there are many paths to success. While sports radio is filled with brilliant diatribes on the importance of team