Major League Baseball hall of famer Reggie Jackson may be best known for his accomplishments on the diamond—most notably hitting three home runs in consecutive at-bats as a New York Yankee during game six of the 1977 World Series—but his acumen as a collector of classic American muscle cars and curvaceous, high-performance exotic sports cars has earned him even greater notoriety in recent years.
The origin of Jackson’s appreciation for automobiles can be traced back to the front porch of his family’s home in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia, where, as a boy, Jackson and his five siblings would sit with his parents— in particular his father, who was a car aficionado—and play an automobile-identification game similar to “I Spy.”
“If a 1964 drove by and it was a Sunliner or a Galaxy or a Thunderbird, we would name the car and its particular designation and color, whether it was Robin Egg Blue or Forest Green,” Jackson recalls. “If it was a Chevrolet, it could have been Dover White or Nassau Blue. And we got points. With that, we learned about cars and we liked cars.”
During his first few seasons in the majors, Jackson would drag race at night in Fremont, Calif., after playing day games as a member of the Oakland Athletics. Over the years, he has assembled an ever-growing (and always-evolving) collection of cars. Mecum Auctions’ upcoming sale in Indianapolis (May 15 through 20) represents a turning point for the former baseball superstar, as Jackson will begin to pare down his sizeable collection. “I’m 71 years old,” he says. “It’s time for me to make a change and do some other things. I have more than 100 cars; it’s time for me to have about 30.”
As Jackson begins that process, he acknowledges that Mecum Auctions was the ideal and obvious auction company with which to partner. “I’ve known Dana Mecum for more than 30 years,” he says. “I’ve seen him grow his business, and in growing his business he’s catered to muscle cars and American performance. For these cars that I have, he’s the person who is best suited to sell them.”
Despite his celebrity status, the legendary ball player doesn’t believe that his ownership will drastically alter the values that his cars could achieve when they cross the block. “My definition of quality is not the same definition of most collectors,” he says. “I have some cars that are untouched, unrestored, never molested. I think that type of car—unrestored with the paperwork to prove it—is the most valuable car that you can own. I believe in authenticity. I’m sending 18 cars there [to Mecum’s Indianapolis auction], and they’re all authentic.”
In advance of Mecum’s annual “Spring Classic” in Indianapolis, we take a look at five American gems from Jackson’s collection that are likely to turn heads and inspire some impassioned bidding.