The 1977 New York Yankees season was the 75th season for the Yankees in New York and the 77th season overall for the franchise. It culminated in the 21st World Series championship in franchise history, and its first under the ownership of George Steinbrenner. The season was brought to life years later in the book, turned drama-documentary, The Bronx is Burning.
The Yankees signed Reggie Jackson to a five-year contract, totaling $2.96 million, on November 29, 1976. Upon arriving in New York, Jackson asked for uniform number 9, which he had worn in Oakland and Baltimore. However, that number was being worn by third basemanGraig Nettles. So, noting that then-all-time home run leader Hank Aaron had just retired, Jackson asked for and received number 44, Aaron's number.
Jackson's first season with the Yankees, 1977, was a difficult one. Although team owner George Steinbrenner and several players, most notably catcher and team captain Thurman Munson and outfielder Lou Piniella, were excited about his arrival, Martin was not. Martin had managed the Tigers in 1972 when Jackson's A's beat them in the playoffs. Jackson was once quoted as saying of Martin, "I hate him, but if I played for him, I'd probably love him."
The relationship between Jackson and his new teammates was strained due to an interview with SPORT magazine writer Robert Ward. During spring training at the Yankees' camp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jackson and Ward were having drinks at a nearby bar. Jackson's version of the story is that he noted that the Yankees had won the pennant the year before, but lost the World Series to the Reds, and suggested that they needed one thing more to win it all, and pointed out the various ingredients in his drink. Ward suggested that Jackson might be "the straw that stirs the drink." But when the story appeared in the May 1977 issue of SPORT, Ward quoted Jackson as saying, "This team, it all flows from me. I'm the straw that stirs the drink. Maybe I should say me and Munson, but he can only stir it bad."
Billy Martin feuded publicly with both Yankee owner George Steinbrenner and star outfielder Reggie Jackson. In one especially infamous incident, on June 18, 1977, in the middle game of what would prove to be a three-game series sweep by the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Martin pulled Jackson off the field in mid-inning for failing to hustle on a ball hit to the outfield. The extremely angry and highly animated Martin had to be restrained by his coaches from getting into a fight with Jackson in the dugout during the nationally-televised Saturday afternoon game.