Is Bryce Harper the new Mr. October? The original weighs in


HOUSTON -- Bryce Harper is being called the new Mr. October.

But he's missing something the original Mr. October has.

Five World Series rings.

Harper will begin play in his first World Series on Friday night against the Houston Astros, the team that employs the OG Mr. October as an executive adviser.

"I haven't seen him play a lot in person, maybe a little bit in spring training," Reggie Jackson said while watching the Phillies work out Thursday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. "But this is different, this is when it counts.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him play. He's a special player."

All of baseball is still buzzing about Harper's performance in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday. His dramatic two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning rescued the Phillies from a one-run deficit and propelled them to a 4-3 win and a trip to the World Series.

Harper is hitting .419 with a 1.351 OPS in 11 games this postseason. He has six doubles, five homers and 11 RBIs.

That's called rising to the occasion.

Jackson knows all about that. He hit 18 homers in the postseason, including five for the Yankees against the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series. Three of those homers came in consecutive at-bats, on three swings, in the Game 6 clincher, earning him the nickname Mr. October.

Like Harper, Jackson had a showman's quality to his game and personality. He was a two-time World Series MVP. 

Harper was the MVP of the NLCS. He'd trade it for a World Series ring, the ultimate symbol of postseason success.

Jackson worked for his old team, the Yankees, for 27 years before joining the Astros as an aide to owner Jim Crane in 2021. He made his way down to the field Thursday to say hello to an old Yankee friend, Phillies manager Rob Thomson. 

"I'm very happy for Robbie," Jackson said. "I was around him for 27 years with the Yankees. He ran spring training and did so much for that organization for so many years. It broke my heart when he moved on. Broke his, too. He deserves the success he's having. Philadelphia got a good man."

Jackson, of course, knows a little bit about Philadelphia. He grew up in Wyncote and was a star athlete at Cheltenham High School. He attended his first big-league game at Connie Mack Stadium in 1956 and saw his idol, Jackie Robinson, hit a home run for the Brooklyn Dodgers. 

"We sat in the left field bleachers, 50 cents, my dad took us," Jackson said. "We ate popcorn and rooted for the Dodgers because they had Black players. I wasn't a Phillies fan until they got Dick Allen. I rooted for him and, of course, I played against him. In my mind, he's a Hall of Famer."

Jackson, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, will be in Philadelphia for Games 3, 4 and 5, if necessary, of the World Series next week. He has a brother in Dover, Delaware and a nephew in Perkiomenville, Pa.

"I get a chance to go home," he said. "I'm sure I'll stop by the old neighborhood."

Then it'll be off to Citizens Bank Park. The visit to Philadelphia is, of course, a business trip, big business, the World Series. The OG Mr. October is eager to check out the new Mr. October, though he left no doubt where his allegiance lies. He took off his Astros cap and pointed to the H on the front.

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