Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly
Don Mattingly

Los Angeles Dodgers — No. 8
First baseman / Manager
Born: April 20, 1961 (1961-04-20) (age 50)
Evansville, Indiana
Batted: Left Threw: Left 
MLB debut
September 8, 1982 for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
October 1, 1995 for the New York Yankees
Career statistics
Batting average     .307
Home runs     222
Runs batted in     1,099

As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

Donald Arthur "Don" Mattingly (born April 20, 1961) is a former Major League Baseball first baseman and current manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Nicknamed "The Hit Man" and "Donnie Baseball", he played his entire 14-year baseball career for the New York Yankees (1982–1995). After his playing career, he also served as a hitting coach for the Yankees and Dodgers prior to taking on his current position as manager of the Dodgers.



High school

A graduate of Memorial High School in Evansville, Indiana in 1979, he led the Tigers to a state record 59 straight victories through the 1978-79 season. In 1978 the Tigers were crowned State Champions and were State Runners-up in 1979. Don was the L.V. Phillips Mental Attitude recipient in 1979. He was All-City, All-SIAC (Southern Indiana Athletic Conference), and All State in both 1978 and 1979. During the four years he played in high school the Tigers compiled a 94-9-1 won – loss record and Don hit .463. He still holds Memorial records for hits (152); doubles (29): triples (25 - also the state record); RBIs (140); and runs scored (99).

Following this outstanding career, Don accepted a scholarship to play baseball for the Indiana State Sycamores and Coach Bob Warn. However, after being drafted by the Yankees, Don decided to begin his professional career.

Professional career

In the minors, Mattingly batted .349 in 1979, .358 in 1980, and .316 in 1981. He was hitting .315 for Triple-A Columbus when he made it to the majors late in the 1982 season, fulfilling a personal goal of never spending more than one season at any level in the minor leagues.

Mattingly spent his official rookie season of 1983 as a part-time first baseman and outfielder, waiting for a full-time spot in the lineup to open up. He played well, hitting .283 in 279 at-bats, but with little power.

Slugger Steve Balboni was the favored organizational prospect at first base, but it became apparent in 1982-83 that Balboni was too prone to striking out and that his ranging right-handed swing was not suited for the Yankee Stadium. Mattingly quickly surpassed Balboni on the team's depth chart, and Balboni was traded to the Kansas City Royals in 1984.

Mattingly became the Yankees' full-time first baseman and an MVP candidate. He hit .343 and beat out teammate Dave Winfield in a close race for the American League batting title with a 4-for-5 game on the last day of the season. Mattingly also led the league with 207 hits. He developed a power stroke, slugging a league-leading 44 doubles to go with 23 home runs. He was 2nd in the league in slugging percentage (.537) and at bats per strikeout (18.3), 4th in total bases (324), 5th in RBIs (110), 6th in sacrifice flies (9), and 10th in on base percentage (.381). He also batted .400 with runners in scoring position.

Mattingly with the Yankees.

Mattingly followed up his breakout season with a spectacular 1985, winning the MVP award in the American League. He batted .324 (3rd in the league) with 35 home runs (4th), 48 doubles (1st), and 145 RBI (1st), then the most RBIs in a season by a left-handed major league batter since Ted Williams drove in 159 in 1949. His 21-RBI lead in the category was the most in the American League since Al Rosen's RBI title of 1953. He led the league in sacrifice flies (15), total bases (370), and extra base hits (86), and was 2nd in the AL in hits (211) and slugging percentage (.567), 3rd in intentional walks (13) and at bats per strikeout (13.9), 6th in runs (107), and 9th in at bats per home run (18.6). He batted .354 with two out and runners in scoring position. Also in 1985 Mattingly was the first farm-grown Yankee to lead the club in homers since Bobby Murcer did it from 1970 to 1973.

Mattingly was also recognized in 1985 for his defense, winning his first of nine Gold Glove Awards. He was considered such an asset defensively that Yankees management assigned him to play games at second base and third base early in his career, even though he was a left-handed thrower. Mattingly appeared as a left-handed throwing second baseman for one-third of one inning, during the resumption of the George Brett "Pine Tar Incident" game in 1983. He also played three games as a left-handed throwing third baseman during a five-game series against the Seattle Mariners in 1986.

Mattingly did just as well in 1986, leading the league with 238 hits, 53 doubles, 388 total bases, and a .573 slugging percentage. He also batted .352 (2nd in the league), hit 31 home runs (6th) and drove in 113 runs (3rd). However, he was easily beaten in the American League MVP voting by pitcher Roger Clemens, who also won the Cy Young Award unanimously that year.

In 1987, Mattingly tied Dale Long's major league record by hitting home runs in eight consecutive games (record later tied again by Ken Griffey, Jr., of Seattle in 1993), as well as stroking an extra base hit in ten consecutive games. Mattingly had a record 10 home runs during this streak (Long & Griffey had eight of them). Also that season, Mattingly set a major league record by hitting six grand slam home runs in a season, a record matched by Travis Hafner during the 2006 season. Mattingly's Grand Slams in 1987 were also the only six Grand Slams of his career.

In June 1987, it was reported that Mattingly injured his back during some clubhouse horseplay with pitcher Bob Shirley though both denied this.[1] Nevertheless, he finished with a .327 batting average, 30 home runs, and 115 RBIs, his fourth straight year with at least 110 RBIs. Between 1985 and 1987, Mattingly hit 96 home runs with just 114 strikeouts.

Though Mattingly would recover, recurrent back woes would curtail his statistics, and eventually, his career.

1988 was a decidedly off year for Mattingly, who had just 18 home runs and 88 RBI, but nonetheless was still in the top 10 in the league in batting average at a .311 clip. He rebounded in 1989 to 113 RBI, but his average dipped to .303. Mattingly's five runs scored on April 30, 1988, marked the 12th time it has been done by a Yankee.

Mattingly's back problems flared up anew in 1990; after struggling with the bat, he had to go on the disabled list in July, only returning late in the season for an ineffective finish. His stat line—a .256 average, 5 home runs and 42 RBI in almost 400 at-bats—came as a shock. Mattingly underwent extensive therapy in the offseason, but his hitting ability was never quite the same. Though he averaged .290 over his final five seasons, he became more of a slap hitter, hitting just 53 home runs over that timeframe. Mattingly's defense remained stellar, but he was not always physically able to play.

Mattingly made his major league debut in 1982, the year after the Yankees lost the World Series. The team did not reach the postseason in any of Mattingly's first 13 years, although they arguably would have made the playoffs in 1994, when the player's strike ended the season prematurely with the Yankees having the best record in the American League.

In 1995, Mattingly finally reached the playoffs when the Yankees won the AL wild card on the next-to-last day of the season. In the only postseason series of his career, facing the Seattle Mariners, Mattingly batted .417 with 6 RBI and a memorable go-ahead home run in Game Two, his final game at Yankee Stadium. In the final game of the series (and of his career), Mattingly again broke a tie with a two-run double. The New York bullpen faltered and Seattle won in the 11th inning of the decisive Game Five.


Don Mattingly's number 23 was retired by the New York Yankees in 1997.
Mattingly's retired number in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium

Mattingly finished his career with 2,153 hits, 222 home runs, 1,099 RBI, and a .307 lifetime average. He is commonly cited as the best Yankee player to have never played in a World Series. His career had bad timing, as the Yankees lost the World Series the year before he broke into the big leagues and they ended up winning the World Series in the first year of Mattingly's retirement. This World Series drought (1982–1995) was the longest in Yankees history since the start of the Babe Ruth era and it was worsened by the player's strike in 1994, which ended a promising chance for a World Series title.

The Yankees retired Mattingly's number 23 and dedicated his plaque for Monument Park at Yankee Stadium on August 31, 1997. The plaque calls him "A humble man of grace and dignity, a captain who led by example, proud of the pinstripe tradition and dedicated to the pursuit of excellence, a Yankee forever."

Career Hitting[2]
1,785 7,003 2,153 442 20 222 1,007 1,099 14 588 444 .307 .358 .471 .829

Hall of Fame Voting

Don Mattingly has been on the hall of fame ballot since 2001, but has never received the percentage of votes necessary for election. In his first year, he received 145 votes (28.2%), but this has steadily declined. In 2009, 12% of voters still put him on their ballots.[3]

Coaching and managing career

Back with the Yankees

Mattingly as hitting coach with the New York Yankees

After retiring as a player, Mattingly spent seven seasons as a special instructor during Yankees' spring training in Tampa, Florida from 1997-2003.

Following the 2003 season, the Yankees named Mattingly the hitting coach. He spent three seasons in that role, receiving much praise from the Yankees organization and his players. Under Mattingly, the Yankees set an all-time franchise record with 242 home runs in 2004.

On October 26, 2006, Mattingly was promoted to being Joe Torre's bench coach, replacing Lee Mazzilli.

On October 18, 2007, Don Mattingly was considered a front runner for the Yankee's manager position, after Joe Torre declined a one year contract extension. Mattingly was interviewed, along with Joe Girardi and Tony Peña. The Yankees offered the managerial position to Girardi, who accepted.[4]

Los Angeles Dodgers

Mattingly with the Dodgers

After not being offered the position of manager for the Yankees, Mattingly followed Joe Torre to the Los Angeles Dodgers to serve as the team's hitting coach. On January 22, 2008, Mattingly was replaced as hitting coach, citing family reasons, and would instead serve as major league special assignment coach for the Dodgers in 2008.[5] It was the first time he worked for a team other than the New York Yankees in his professional baseball career. The Los Angeles Times reported on July 9, 2008 that Mattingly would once again be the Dodgers' hitting coach, replacing Mike Easler.[6] The Dodgers made the playoffs in 2008 and again in 2009 and in both years, advanced to the National League Championship Series, largely behind the bat of mid-season acquisition Manny Ramirez, before losing both times in the NLCS to the Philadelphia Phillies.

In the 2009-10 offseason, Mattingly was a finalist for the managerial position with the Cleveland Indians (for which Manny Acta was eventually hired).[7] When Torre decided to retire at the end of the 2010 season, Mattingly was announced as his replacement.[8] To acquire some managerial experience, Mattingly managed the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League in 2010.[9]

Mattingly made his managerial debut on March 31, 2011 by defeating the San Francisco Giants 2-1 at Dodger Stadium.[10]

Personal life

Mattingly married Kim Sexton on September 8, 1979; they are now divorced. They have three sons: Taylor, Preston, and Jordon, two of whom attempted careers at professional baseball.

Preston Mattingly with the Class-A Great Lakes Loons

Taylor was drafted in the 42nd round (1262nd overall) of the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft by the New York Yankees, and played in 24 games for the Gulf Coast Yankees in the rookie league before an injury cut short his season. After sitting out all of 2004 and 2005, Taylor retired from baseball in 2005 after only 58 professional at bats. Of his eldest son, Don mentioned: "He loved the game, not the lifestyle."[11]

Preston was chosen in the first round (31st overall) of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers and was rated as a B- prospect in John Sickels' 2007 Baseball Prospect Book. Sickels noted, "Position a question but has promising tools and bloodlines."[12] Preston was traded to the Cleveland Indians on September 26, 2010, just nine days after his father was announced as the manager of the Dodgers for the 2011 season.[13] He was subsequently released by the Indians at the end of spring training, and resigned with the Dodgers.[14]

Mattingly remarried on December 10, 2010 in his hometown of Evansville, Indiana. The marriage as well as his managing the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League kept him from attending the Fall 2010 Winter Meetings.[15]

Business ventures

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Don Mattingly was the owner of a restaurant in Evansville, Indiana called "Mattingly's 23", after the uniform number he wore for most of his career. (During his first two seasons, he wore uniform number 46.)[citation needed]

In 2005, Mattingly launched Mattingly Sports, a baseball and softball equipment company, based primarily around the patented V-Grip baseball and softball bats. After watching his kids and their friends struggle to maintain the proper hitting grip, Don, along with co-inventor Jim Wells, created the V-Grip as a way to ensure the proper alignment of the hands and to keep the bat out in the hitter's fingertips. A third founder, Skip Shaw, was brought in to grow the company into a meaningful player in the baseball and softball equipment marketplace. The V-Grip bats have been approved for game play by all of the major, non-professional leagues and associations including Little League Baseball, Babe Ruth (including Ripken Baseball), Pony League, Dixie Youth, AABC, ASA, USSSA, the National Federation of High Schools, and the NCAA.[16]

Pop culture and the "hair cut" controversy

Mattingly appeared in a baseball-themed episode of The Simpsons, entitled "Homer at the Bat". In the episode (originally aired on February 20, 1992), team owner Mr. Burns repeatedly orders Mattingly to shave off his sideburns, even though Mattingly has no sideburns. A confused Mattingly returns with 1/3 of his head shaved from one ear over the top of the head to other. The irate Burns cuts him from the team because he would not "shave those sideburns!" As he departs, the exasperated Mattingly says to himself, "I still like him better than Steinbrenner."

In 1991, before the episode aired but after it was produced, then-Yankees manager Stump Merrill told him that until he cut his hair, he would not play. This was in accord with Yankee owner George Steinbrenner's policy requiring his players to maintain well-kept head and facial hair, although at the time, Steinbrenner was suspended. Mattingly was sporting a longish or mullet like hair style, and when he refused to cut it, he was benched.[17][18] This led to huge media frenzy with reporters and talk radio repeatedly mocking the team so much so that the WPIX broadcasting crew of Phil Rizzuto, Bobby Murcer and Tom Seaver lampooned the incident before the start of a game on a pregame show with Rizzuto playing the role of a barber sent to enforce the policy. Mimicking the controversy, a perfectly groomed Seaver has hair that to Rizzuto appears "a bit too long." Before proceeding with the telecast Rizzuto "trims" Seaver's hair with a barber shears.

Many people believed the joke in The Simpsons episode to be a reference to the incident, but "Homer at the Bat" was actually recorded a year before it happened. In 1995, Mattingly again ran afoul of the policy when he grew a goatee.

Mattingly has also appeared in public service announcements airing on the Spike TV network advocating fathers spending time with their children as part of the "True Dads" campaign to encourage men to take an active role in their children's lives.[19]

Mattingly is referred to by name in several episodes of Seinfeld. In one memorable episode, his uniform pants split because they were made of 100% cotton at the behest of George Costanza.

See also


  1. ^ Chass, Murray (June 9, 1987). "Doctor's orders: Rest for Mattingly". New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2010. .
  2. ^ "Don Mattingly Statistics". Retrieved October 20, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Don Mattingly bio". 
  4. ^ Kepner, Tyler (October 30, 2007). "Girardi, Pinstripe Champion, Is Yankees' Choice as Manager". New York Times. Retrieved December 19, 2009. 
  5. ^ The San Francisco Chronicle. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Report: Dodgers promote Mattingly Special hitting instructor would assume full-time role on staff". Retrieved October 20, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Legendary Manager Joe Torre to Retire at End of Baseball Season". CNN. September 17, 2010. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Jackson, Tony (October 12, 2010). "Don Mattingly managing in Fall League". 
  10. ^ Hernandez, Dylan (January 7, 2011). "Dodgers' opener moved up a day". Los Angeles Times: p. C5. 
  11. ^ "Now the Fun Starts". New York Post. Retrieved May 21, 2007. 
  12. ^ "2007 Los Angeles Dodgers Prospects". SportsBlogs, Inc.. Archived from the original on March 12, 2007. Retrieved May 21, 2007. 
  13. ^ Jackson, Tony (September 26, 2010). "Dodgers trade Preston Mattingtly". Retrieved September 26, 2010. 
  14. ^ Indians cut ties with Mattingly's son
  15. ^ Jackson, Tony (December 7, 2010). "Joe Torre puts off decision on future". 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Curry, Jack (August 17, 1991). "Baseball; No More Split Ends as Mattingly Rejoins Yanks". New York Times. 
  18. ^ Chass, Murray (August 16, 1991). "Baseball; Mattingly Flap: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?". New York Times. 

External links

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