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Billy battled opponents, himself

Quotes by Billy Martin

Quotes on Billy Martin





Friday, July 22, 2005
Billy's Bronx Zoo
By Nick Acocella
Special to ESPN.com


Signature Game
June 18, 1977 - The quintessential moment of the Bronx Zoo Yankees of 1977 came in the sixth inning of a nationally televised Saturday afternoon 10-4 loss in Boston. With the Yankees in third place, 1 games behind the Red Sox, the incompatibility between Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson came to a head after the rightfielder went after a checked-swing hit by Jim Rice with a notable lack of enthusiasm.

When Jackson threw home, Rice went to second and Fred Lynn, who had been on first, to third. Marching to the mound to replace Mike Torrez, Martin also sent Paul Blair to right to substitute for Jackson, who was scheduled to bat in the next inning and who already had two hits.

Jackson strolled into the dugout, his arms extended and his hands palms up as if to ask, "What did I do?" The player and the manager exchanged heated words. There was lots of arm waving. Coach Elston Howard stepped between them and Dick Howser and Yogi Berra, two other coaches, restrained Martin. The NBC cameras caught the episode, which stands as the paradigm of the stormy Martin years.

Martin by the numbers

Career Statistics
Year Tm/Lg AB Runs Hits BA HR RBI OBP SLG
1950 NY-A 36 10 9 .250 1 8 .308 .361
1951 NY-A 58 10 15 .259 0 33 .328 .345
1952 NY-A 363 32 97 .267 3 33 .323 .344
1953 NY-A 587 72 151 .257 15 75 .314 .395
Military Service
1955 NY-A 70 8 21 .300 1 9 .364 .371
1956 NY-A 458 76 121 .264 9 49 .314 .397
1957 NY-A/KC-A 410 45 103 .251 10 39 .284 .383
1958 Det-A 498 56 127 .255 7 42 .282 .339
1959 Cle-A 242 37 63 .260 9 24 .292 .401
1960 Cin-N 317 34 78 .246 3 16 .305 .334
1961 Mil-N/Min-A 380 45 92 .246 6 36 .277 .361
TOTAL 11 yrs. 3419 425 877 .257 64 333 .301 .369

Managing record

By the Numbers
Year TM/L G W L PCT STD
1969 Min-A 162 97 65 .599 1W
1971 Det-A 162 91 71 .562 2E
1972 Det-A 156 86 70 .551 1E
1973 Det-A 134 71 63 .530 3E (3E)

Tex-A 23 9 14 .391 6W (6W)
1974 Tex-A 161 84 76 .525 2W
1975 Tex-A 95 44 51 .463 4W (3W)

NY-A 56 30 26 .536 3E (3E)
1976 NY-A 159 97 62 .610 1E**
1977 NY-A 162 100 62 .617 1E***
1978 NY-A 94 52 42 .553 3E ^(1E)
1979 NY-A 95 55 40 .579 4E (4E)
1980 Oak-A 162 83 79 .512 2W
1981 Oak-A 60 37 23 .617 1W*

Oak-A 49 27 22 .551 2W
1982 Oak-A 162 68 94 .420 5W
1983 NY-A 162 91 71 .562 3E
1985 NY-A 145 91 54 .628 7E (2E)
1988 NY-A 68 40 28 .588 2E (5E)
Totals 16 2267 1253 1013 .553


* Lost Divisional Series 3-0 to New York
**Won AL, lost 4-0 in World Series to Cincinnati
*** Won World Series 4-2 over Los Angeles
^ After Martin resigns, NY ties for AL East, wins playoff game vs. Boston and wins World Series 4-2 over Los Angeles
( )parenthesis reflects team's final standing

Odds 'n' Ends

  • On his first fielding chance as a professional, Martin, playing third base for Idaho Falls, booted the ball. On the next play, he began a double play, on a ground ball that was clearly foul but on which the umpire missed the call.

  • At Phoenix in the Class C Texas-Arizona League in 1947, Martin hit .392 and drove in 174 runs in 130 games.

  • The story goes that when Phil Rizzuto received a death threat in 1950, Yankees manager Casey Stengel suggested he and Martin switch numbers. The shortstop refused, however, because, he said, he'd rather take his chances with a guy with a gun than risk being mistaken for Martin and getting beaned or beat up by an opponent.

  • With the Yankees leading the Brooklyn Dodgers by two runs in Game 7 of the 1952 World Series, Jackie Robinson popped up near the mound with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning. Pitcher Bob Kuzava and first baseman Joe Collins either lost the ball or froze. Martin darted in, cap flying, and caught the ball just before it hit the ground, preventing the Dodgers from tying the game. The Yankees won 4-2.

  • In the first game of the 1953 World Series, Martin had a bases-clearing triple, two singles and a steal in the Yankees' 9-5 victory.

  • Martin batted .500 in the 1953 Series, going 12-for-24 with two homers and eight RBI in six games.

  • Despite their father-son relationship, Martin and Stengel didn't speak for years because the infielder blamed his manager for failing to prevent his trade to Kansas City in 1957.

  • Martin's most embarrassing moment was scampering back to tag up at third, at the insistence of coach Frank Crosetti, after Mickey Mantle had belted one of his tape-measure shots.

  • Martin's legendary fights as a player include bouts with Jimmy Piersall, Clint Courtney (twice), Matt Batts, Tommy Lasorda and Jim Brewer.

  • Martin's sparring opponents as a manager include two traveling secretaries (Minnesota's Howard Fox and Texas' Burt Hawkins); two pitchers (Dave Boswell and Ed Whitson); Jack Sears, a fan outside Tiger Stadium; a Chicago cab driver who preferred soccer to baseball; sportswriter Ray Hagar, in a Reno casino; marshmallow salesman Joseph Cooper; two bar patrons, in Anaheim and in Baltimore; and two bouncers in an Arlington topless bar.

  • Martin's career record as a manager was 1,253-1,013 for a .553 percentage. He was even better in his first full season at each stop, when he had a combined 543-424 record for a .562 percentage.

  • Rod Carew credits Martin with teaching him how to steal home, a feat Carew accomplished seven times in 1969, the only year Martin managed him.

  • Martin often yelled at umpires and kicked dirt on them. His antics became so commonplace that a drawing of the manager arguing with an ump appeared on the cover of the Yankees media guide in 1983.

  • In 1976, Martin had a Don Money game-winning grand slam called back because first baseman Chris Chambliss had asked for time.

  • Also in 1976, he compelled umpire supervisor John Stevens to fly to Milwaukee to check the slope of the mound at County Stadium.

  • With Oakland in 1982, Martin demanded a five-year contract extension. He also tore up his office after a loss while shouting into the phone at club officials about the delay in his new pact, which he never received.

  • In the 1983 Pine Tar Game, Martin got the umpires to call George Brett out after Brett gave the Kansas City Royals the lead with a homer in the ninth inning. However, the league office overruled the umpires and allowed the homer to stand.

  • When Martin was killed on Christmas Day 1989, the media reported that he was a passenger in his pickup truck and the vehicle was driven by longtime friend Bill Reedy, who was charged with driving while intoxicated. However, Peter Golenbock, in his book Wild, High, and Tight: The Life and Death of Billy Martin, makes the case that Martin was the driver and that his wife and Reedy covered up the truth.





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