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Bob Gibson, Reggie Jackson: Playing those mind games

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In their new book, two baseball legends—pitcher Bob Gibson and slugger Reggie Jackson—examine qualities that take a player to the top.

In their words here’s what it takes:

Advantage: “There are at least three kinds of advantages that the pitcher and batter contest,” Jackson says. “There’s the physical advantage, the strategic advantage and also the psychological advantage. I didn’t want two out of three. I wanted them all.”

Entitlement: “When I stepped into the box, I felt that at-bat belonged to me,” Jackson says.

Power: “I got a lot of mileage out of looking angry,” Gibson says. “I was deliberately unfriendly to the opposition. I wanted them wary of me. Uncertain. Intimidated.”

Mastery: “What I had to learn, mostly, was what I could do and what I couldn’t do,” Jackson says. “A good pitcher might have an advantage with a big fastball but I had a major advantage: I could hit a fly ball and get it out of the ballpark.”

Consistency: “Most of the time, good hitters don’t miss bad pitches,” Gibson says. “Guys like Willie Mays don’t make mistakes.”

Confidence: “You can’t go out there with the attitude that you’re going to miss your spot,” Gibson says. “You can’t go out there afraid of the hitter or afraid of yourself.”

“I honestly felt that when I went to home plate, 85% to 90% of the time I was going to get a ball to put in play hard,” Jackson adds. “When I was facing a great pitcher late in a ballgame, and the ballgame was close, I’d try to get really focused on doing what I do best. That’s when it’s fun, because the great pitcher is doing the same thing.”

— Adapted from Sixty Feet, Six Inches, Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson, Doubleday.

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