BOSTON — What a thing it is that the very season the Astros reached the rarefied air of five consecutive American League Championship Series appearances, a member of the last club to pull that off climbed aboard this ultra-successful franchise.
“I’ve had two situations where I was able to get paid and watch my favorite player,” Reggie Jackson, a member of the 1971-75 A’s and currently a special adviser to Astros owner Jim Crane, told The Post on Tuesday before the Astros’ 9-1 Game 5 win at Fenway Park. “Derek. And now the same thing, the guy that I like to watch in a game mostly now in a game is Altuve. And I get paid.”
That would be Derek Jeter, naturally, who built his Hall of Fame résumé on the Yankees with Reggie stopping by the scene a few times per year in an advisory role. And now Jose Altuve, the Astros’ dynamic second baseman, whose game-tying, eighth-inning homer in Tuesday night’s ALCS Game 4 marked the 21st postseason homer of his career, breaking a tie with Jeter.
Yes, Mr. October holds the highest regard for those who, like him, thrive when the stakes rank highest; Jeter of course earned the “Mr. November” moniker, an offshoot of Jackson’s handle, when he hit a walk-off homer in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series shortly after the clock struck midnight on Nov. 1.
With his new employer, whom he joined midseason after leaving the Yankees last winter, Jackson can enjoy not one modern-day Mr. October, but two. If he likes Altuve the most, Jackson admires Altuve’s double-play partner Carlos Correa enough that he welcomed him to the club on Tuesday night, after Correa, who has 18 career postseason homers, scored the winning run in the Astros’ 9-2 victory over the Red Sox that knotted this series at 2-2.
Correa started the ninth inning Tuesday, as the game stood tied at 2-2, with a double off Red Sox ace Nathan Eovaldi. He came home on Jason Castro’s two-out single, turning on the spigot that flowed into a seven-run rally for the visitors. Afterward, as Correa told Alex Rodriguez on the FS1 postgame show (as per the Houston Chronicle), “I’m doubly excited today. We had that great game and when I went back to the locker, [Jackson] gave me one of his hats that he’s been wearing around. To me that was such a great honor. Reggie Jackson is such a legend of the game.
“Just giving me the hat that says ‘Mr. October’ on the side, that was special to me so I’m really excited about that one, too.”
Yes, Reggie, never shy, sports a personally crafted Astros cap with “Mr. October” stitched on the side. He grinned when a reporter pointed out the similarities between himself and Correa, who is quite the showboat as well.
“They’re comfortable in the environment,” Jackson said of Altuve and Correa. “They’re comfortable in the environment. They were born in the environment. They expect to win. There’s no angst in the clubhouse. There’s no angst.” He said this before Game 4, and the results validated his observations.
It clearly has been an enjoyable transition to a Yankees nemesis for Jackson, 75, even as he maintains good terms with the Steinbrenner family and the Yankees. Said Jackson of the Astros: “They have a great nucleus, and they’ve got an owner that’s very similar to those guys that I played for, [A’s owner Charlie] Finley and George [Steinbrenner]. He’s got a lot more money than Finley. More money than George, too.
“[Crane] is hands-on. He knows people. He knows how to get the most out of them. He knows leadership. Understands makeup. He’s an impressive guy. He’s an impressive guy.”
Astros manager Dusty Baker, Jackson’s contemporary, said, “It’s been good. It’s been real good” to have the Hall of Famer around the team this season. “Any time you can add a great mind, and Reggie is a smart man, and he knows when to back off and he has a pretty good idea when to go forward. So, yeah, it’s been good.”
Quite a collection of October greatness on this side of the field, as the Astros work to keep climbing the all-time charts … and get Reggie an 11th ring.