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Posts Tagged ‘Billy Martin’

Here’s a clip from April of 1987, when George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin appeared on Letterman. Billy shares a story about a time he went hunting with Mickey down in Texas.

If you’d like to see the full interview, fast forward to the 15:15 mark on this video.

 

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     In 1985, Yogi Berra was brought back to manage the Yankees after an 87-win 1987 campaign. Steinbrenner wasn’t very happy with Berra’s laid back managing style. George wanted him in his players faces, but Berra would do nothing of the sort. After 16 games into the season, the club owned a 6-10 record and that was enough for George to let Yogi go. Billy returned, thinking that George would get off his back.

Billy made a pact with Steinbrenner. The terms of the deal were that George could not enter the clubhouse or deliver speeches to the team, while Billy would have to fine players on a whim. And that’s exactly what Billy did. Peter Golenbock says: “He fined Phil Niekro for giving up a grand slam home run. He fined Rich Bordi for not trimming his mustache, and he fined Bobby Meachem one time for swinging at the first pitch.” He goes onto say: “It got so bad that Niekro described Billy as “The Maddest of the Game’s Madmen.” By mid-season, Steinbrenner would be down his throat once again, causing Billy to continue drinking himself to death. (more…)

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I took an English course this past semester at school, and the main theme of the class was “Spectacle”. For our final paper, we were able to choose a topic that we thought fit that category, and I chose George Steinbrenner’s reign as owner of the New York Yankees. The purpose of my paper was to show how the different personality traits that he possessed led to success in many different aspects of his job.

spec·ta·cle [spek-tuh-kuhl]

–noun
1. anything presented to the sight or view, esp. something of a striking or impressive kind:
2. a public show or display, esp. on a large scale

Steinbrenner’s Reign

              George M. Steinbrenner III has gone down in the record books as one of the most controversial and successful owners in the history of sports. His demand for excellence and his hunger to be the best did not always put him in a good light with the people he worked with, because he was stubborn and wanted to do things his way. During his reign as owner with the New York Yankees, he had run-ins with authorities, MLB officials, players, and team personnel. If things didn’t go according to his plan, he would take matters into his own hands, berating players and messing around with the minds of his managers and employees. Even though many of his tactics were thought to be unethical, Steinbrenner transcended the game of baseball in the process by: bringing about the development of free agency, having the first organization to own and operate its own television cable network, controlling the back pages of the newspapers, and changed the way other clubs ran their teams. These developments allowed the fans to forgive and forget about the stunts Steinbrenner pulled. It was his attitude, competitiveness, larger than life personality, and his generosity that allowed his to shine the brightest in the biggest media market in the country. These personality traits were critical factors in his success as an owner: financially, on the ball field, and with the media and fans.

            Steinbrenner was a remarkable competitor, who was motivated to be successful like no other owner in the sports world. “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next,” he said. His whole life was a competition, dating back to his childhood when he was constantly trying to gain approval from his father. George’s father, Henry Steinbrenner, “ruled with an iron fist” and instilled the idea that winning was all that mattered in life. George could tell him that he won two out of three races in school, but his father would only focus on why he lost that third race and what went wrong. In 1973, Steinbrenner and a small group of investors purchased the New York Yankees from CBS for $8.8 million dollars. Thirty-seven years later, the organization is now worth $1.6 billion, which is the most valuable baseball team in the league (and 3rd most valuable franchise in the world. 1st: Manchester United $1.8B, 2nd: Dallas Cowboys $1.65B). When he first bought the team, he led New Yorkers to believe that he would not be a hands-on owner, but he would rather keep his distance from the team and go back to his family shipping business. “I won’t be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all. I can’t spread myself so thin. I’ve got enough headaches with my shipping company. We plan absentee ownership as far as running the Yankees is concerned,” he stated. It turned out to be the complete opposite, because he wanted his own project to work on, rather than staying put in his father’s shipping company. “I’m not here to run a country club,” Steinbrenner said. “I’m here to run a winning organization.” He soon donned the nicknames “The Boss” and “Manager George”, and would meddle in the general manager’s meetings and many of the on-field decisions. There were several occasions during the 1970’s where George would call Yankees manager, Billy Martin in the dugout during a game and give him a tongue-lashing. He would complain about anything from why they didn’t bunt in a particular situation to why Reggie Jackson wasn’t batting fourth in the lineup. It was a display of just how unreasonable George could be at times. (more…)

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Things are as quiet as Yankee Stadium in December

These are strange times in Yankeeland and a reminder that GMS is no longer in control. Why? Because it’s so…quiet.

Seriously, when was the last time the New York Yankees had a quiet offseason? And especially one with this many possible plots:

  • Contract negotiations with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera
  • Andy Pettite’s impending decision
  • Cliff Lee on the market
  • Other high-profile free agents available: Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, Vladimir Guerrerro, etc.
  • Dave Eiland’s sudden – and mysterious – exile (and the need to find a new pitching coach)
  • The catching situation
  • High demand around baseball for the top Yankee pitching prospects.
  • …and more

It’s almost eerie, really. The amount of noise generated by Jeter’s negotiations pale, for instance, to those between the Boss and Reggie. Even the management situation was shuffled on and off the back pages in a matter of hours. Anyone remember Billy I, II, III, IV and V? Heck, even Hank has been quiet – and if there is one person in the Yankee Universe we should be able to count on for a headline making quote, it’s Hank.

Perhaps they’re keeping things under wraps out of deference to the Giants and Rangers. (Certainly not a GMS tactic).  This whole having to scan a dozen papers to find one paragraph that even mentions the Yankees is just plain strange for a guy who grew up with the Bronx Zoo. I suppose for some, the silence that has clamped down on Yankee Stadium is a welcome respite from the nearly 40 years of Boss-fueled headlines. To me, it’s reminiscent of the days of CBS’ ownership. You know. The days when nothing happened and when it did, nobody really cared. New manager? Meh. Trade? Double meh.

So, Hal, Hank and Brian – please, give us something, anything, to discuss. I never thought the Yankees would cede the back pages to the Mess. Face it guys – sometimes no news is just…no news. And for the both the Yankees and baseball, that isn’t good.

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On July 24th, 1983, the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals went head-to-head at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees were leading 4–3 with two outs in the top of the ninth, when George Brett stepped up to the plate and hit a 2-run home run off of Goose Gossage to give the Royals a 5-4 lead.

Billy Martin ran out of the dugout and asked the umpires to examine Brett’s bat. The umpires concluded that the pine tar on the bat handle exceed the amount allowed by Major League Baseball. Home plate umpire, Tim McClelland, called Brett out and mayhem ensued. George Brett came storming out of the dugout and had to be restrained by players and the other umpires from hitting McClelland.

The rule book stated: (Rule 1.10 b) “a bat may not be covered by such a substance more than 18 inches from the tip of the handle.” The game was protested by the Royals, and Tim McClelland had his decision overruled by AL President Lee MacPhail. George Brett’s home run was restored, and the game resumed on August 18th. Final Score: Royals 5, Yankees 4.

The game has gone down in history with the name: “The Pine Tar Game.”

The bat has been on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY since 1987.

File:George brett pine tar bat rotated.JPG

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The Yankees have been a part of my family since I can remember. I attended my first game in 1970, for my 5th birthday, at the original Yankee stadium. They weren’t very good then and they lost the game, but I do remember Bobby Murcer hitting a drive that hit the monuments and bounced straight back to the center fielder. Murcer was thrown at third. Such was the Yankees fate in those days.

In 1988, I introduced my niece to the Yankees. She was 3 at the time and once again, the team was pretty bad. Oh, they sort of hit – but the pitching staff was terrible. Billy Martin started Rick Rhoden (the pitcher) at DH that day. But somehow, they won that game on a Claudell Washington walk-off single. Afterwards, the real reason I was able to convince my sister to attend the game: a Beach Boys concert. (John Stamos was in the back-up band at the time and she was a huge Stamos fan back then).

So, before getting yourself worked up about Mark Teixeira’s average or Chan Ho Park’s ERA, think back to the first Yankee team you fell in love with. Unless you were born after 1995, odds are that first team was pretty bad. Maybe your first hero was Donnie Baseball or Dave Winfield. Perhaps, like me, you wore a Fred Stanley jersey with pride (and incessant ribbing from your friends and Little League teammates). Yes, the team has room for improvement. But at 50-31, this isn’t the 1988 or 1970 Yankees.

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Update: Vote in the poll located on the sidebar of the blog. The Question: Should Joe Torre’s #6 be retired in Monument Park?

On January 20th, I wrote this article on the Yankees’ retired numbers and their future. In the comments Rob Abruzzese from Bronx Baseball Daily (Check it out!) stated that he thought that the number 6 would be retired in the future for another person and not for Torre.

While what he said might happen, it got me thinking about Torre compared to Casey Stengel and Billy Martin’s time as managers. Below I have laid out all the important numbers for you to consider between these three managers.

Casey Stengel

Years W L % Pennants WS Titles
12 1149 696 .623 10 7

Joe Torre

Years W L % Pennants WS Titles
12 1173 767 .605 6 4

Billy Martin

Years W L % Pennants WS Titles
8 556 385 .591 2 1

Looking at the information above, outside of the enormous amount of World Series’ that Casey Stengel went to as a manager of the Yankees, Joe Torre compares to him quite well. Heck, even with the World Series and the AL Pennants considered, they are still comparable.

Considering Martin’s track record as a manager, I thought it might be a good idea to took a look at his stats in 7 years with the Yankees on the field. In previously stated time, he hit .262, 30 HRs and 188 RBIs, not too impressive if I do say so myself. Rob from Bronx Baseball Daily had another good point, maybe at one point, Steinbrenner went a little crazy with retiring of the numbers. If someone gave me his managerial numbers and his professional numbers and asked if this person deserved to have his number retired, I wouldn’t think twice about saying ‘No.’

However, when you look at Stengel’s numbers and compare them with Torre’s during their pinstriped tenure there is a striking similarity. Going even a little further, Stengel in his 12 years did not make the playoffs every year, while under Torre, the Yankees did. So, for those people who have said that Torre’s number shouldn’t be retired, ask yourself this: If Torre is comparable to Stengel, then why isn’t Torre given the same respect? Is it because of his book, The Yankees Years?

Now, I am not saying this man deserves a monument, but simply to have his number retired. In many years from now, when Torre’s name and his managerial record gets put in for Hall of Fame consideration and he gets voted into the Hall of Fame, people will begin to change their mind.

So, still I have one question, why is there so much push back for 6 being retired?

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In the Yankees’ long line of history, they have retired in total 16 numbers for 17 players (Including Jackie Robinson) which is far above any other team in Major League Baseball history and over the course of the next 5 years will be adding more numbers to the list. Below is the list of current retired numbers with the appropriately named player for those numbers.

1 – Billy Martin
3 – Babe Ruth
4 – Lou Gehrig
5 – Joe DiMaggio
7 – Mickey Mantle
8 – Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra
9 – Roger Maris
10 – Phil Rizzuto
15 – Thurman Munson
16 – Whitey Ford
23 – Don Mattingly
32 – Elston Howard
37 – Casey Stengel
44 – Reggie Jackson
42 – Jackie Robinson
49 – Ron Guidry

Now, in the next decade, give or take, the Yankees will be adding more numbers to the already historic list. Personally, I believe the Yankees will retire all the below listed numbers.

2 – Derek Jeter
6 – Joe Torre
20 – Jorge Posada
21 – Paul O’Neill
42 – Mariano Rivera
46 – Andy Pettitte
51 – Bernie Williams

When do I think all these numbers will be retired? Hard to tell. Derek and Mo’s numbers are a given to happen within the first year or two of retirement. However, I don’t think Torre’s number will be retired with Brian Cashman working in the organization considering their falling out, but crazier things have happened. There is something that tells me Bernie and Posada’s numbers might take a little bit longer, but will eventually join Mariano and Derek’s numbers in time. Another issue that will come up is whether or not Pettitte’s number should be retired due to his admitted use of HGH. Now, I believe what he has told us, so I don’t think he should be penalized for what he has done. I mean, the Yankees have brought him back the last two years, so obviously they don’t think it’s an issue.

So there is the potential for 23 numbers for 25 players to be retired in the next decade, give or take, which is kind of crazy, but after this group gets their just due, it won’t be for a while that another number gets retired.

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On December 26, 1919, Babe Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees from the Boston Red Sox for $125,000. That deal led to an 86-year drought for the Boston Red Sox without winning a World Series championship. The nickname for the drought famously became known as “The Curse of the Bambino”.

Harry Frazee, the Red Sox owner at the time, completed a deal with Col. Jacob Ruppert that trumped an offer by the Chicago White Sox.  That deal included Shoeless Joe Jackson and $60,000. Ruppert was trying to compete with the New York Giants and he needed a big name for a box-office draw, and he closed the deal. The transaction was finally announced the first week of January 1920. Years later, George Herman Ruth would go down in history as a Yankee Legend, and most importantly the greatest player to ever play this game we call baseball. (more…)

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Today is a glorious day for those who celebrate Christmas and to those who don’t, I hope your holidays are just as warm. Today generally is a good day, unless your birthday is today or within a week timespan of this day, then you’re screwed. Sorry :(

51 years ago the greatest of all time Rickey Henderson was born.

However, 20 years ago today Billy Martin passed away.

True Fact: Billy Martin is buried 150 feet away from Babe Ruth.

Either way, today is a wonderful day to those that celebrate it, so to you I say Merry Christmas, to the rest I say Happy Holidays and to Costanza’s, Happy Festivus!

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