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Number 1

It's fitting that I started <a href="http://www.amazothis weekend- there's a whole chapter in the beginning on one of the most fascinating characters every to wear a Yankee uniform - and tomorrow is his birthday.

Happy birthday, Billy Martin.

Whether you loved him or hated him, there's no denying he certainly made things interesting. He was a complex guy that few people understood, or even attempted to understand. But he was, for the most part, one hell of a manager. He was a guy who lived for baseball, almost to the exclusion of everything else.

Earl Weaver on Martin: Billy understands baseball, he just doesn't understand life.

Also:

"Some people have a chip on their shoulder. Billy has a whole lumberyard."
--Jim Murray

"We used to tease each other about whose liver was going to go first. I never thought it would end for him this way."
--Mickey Mantle on the death of Martin, quoted in USA Today, December 29, 1989

I'll raise a glass of Scotch to him, anyhow. I know a lot of people hated him, but you gotta love the way he loved the game.

Comments

It was even narrower than baseball - Billy lived for today's game. Rode his players so hard they hated him and tuned him out after a year or two every time. Burned out his starting pitchers, pitching them like there was no tomorrow (Bill James once did a big study on the ghastly post-Martin results - this is a man who had Mickey Lolich, that paragon of conditioning, throw 376 innings in a season).

George Steinbrenner took a lot of criticism for his alternating use of Lemon & Martin, but it's become something of a stardard recipe in pro sports--replace the nice guy with the hardass and the hardass with the nice guy.

Thanks for the reminder.

My closest brush with Billy was that we were at the same strip club in Arlington after a Texas Rangers game. He got beat up in the Lace parking lot that night. And I totally missed it.

Put me down in the "hate him" column. I still remember when he sucker-punched the Cubs' jim Brewer and broke the bone next to his eye. Shortened his career. Yeah, I'll grant you he made things interesting. So did Hitler and Tojo. What a creep.