Saturday, August 20, 2011

#295 Billy Martin

The Topps photographer didn't do Billy Martin any favors with this dugout shot.
Martin needs no introduction, and I really wouldn't know where to begin to recount either of his baseball careers. Scrappy as a player (on and off the field) he carried that same persona to his days as a manager for several American League clubs, most famously the Yankees.
Some Billy Martin facts (and opinions):
  • Played minor league ball for Casey Stengel who was responsible for signing him for the Yanks.

  • During his tenure as a player for the Yanks they missed a title only in 1954 when he was serving in the military.

  • Won four World Series rings playing with the Yanks and batted .333 with 5 dingers in 28 total games.

  • Was involved in perhaps more scares than any player of his generation. Squared off against Jimmy Piersall, Jim Brewer, Clint Courtney and Tommy Lasorda. Also a well publicized 'brawl' at the Copacabana club in NYC. That episode pretty much led to his ticket out of the Big Apple in 1957. He had a couple of bar fights including one in an Arlington, Texas topless club after he'd been tossed out of a game as Rangers' manager. 

  • He had short stretches as a player for the A's, Reds, Indians, Tigers, Braves and Twins after his days as a Yankee infielder.

  • He's of Italian and Portuguese decent as am I. That's pretty much all he and I have in common.

  • He won his only ring as a manager while piloting the Yankees in 1977. That was during the first of five separate stints working for George Steinbrenner in NY. He also managed the Twins, Rangers, Tigers and Athletics.

I'm not a big fan of the guy. But to give him his due I direct you to some places where you can read more about Billy Martin than I want to:
An ESPN bio
An account of his Christmas Day 1989 death in a crash. Interesting quotes from Mickey Mantle in that post.
Baseball Reference Bullpen bio
This is one of my least favorite cards in the set (for multiple reasons) and I'm glad to be done with it.

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