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Donald Arthur Mattingly (nicknamed "Donnie Baseball" and "The Hit Man") (born April 20, 1961) is a former first baseman who played for the New York Yankees of the American League from 1982-1995. He also served as the Yankees hitting coach from 2004 to 2006 and Joe Torre's bench coach in 2007. He is currently the Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach.

Mattingly grew up in Evansville, Indianamarker and was one of the nation's top prospects as a high school player at Reitz Memorial High Schoolmarker in 1979, earning a brief write-up in Sports Illustrated magazine. However, most Major League Baseball teams avoided drafting Mattingly, as he'd signed a scholarship letter of intent with Indiana State Universitymarker before entering the professional baseball draft. Taking a chance, the New York Yankees drafted Mattingly in the 19th round of the 1979 amateur draft and soon signed him.

"Donnie Baseball" is one of the most popular Yankees in the team's history. Although Mattingly never played on a World Series championship team or even appeared in a World Series (just missing out by one season at each end of his career), his popularity is nevertheless comparable to that of Yankee greats like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Joe DiMaggio. Since returning for the team's annual Old-Timers' Game, Mattingly has consistently received the loudest ovations.


High School

A graduate of Memorial High School in Evansville 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 , and .316 in . 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 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 .

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 RBI (110), 6th in sacifice 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 , 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 . 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 , 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. Mattlingly 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 run 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, Mattingly injured his back during some clubhouse horseplay with pitcher Bob Shirley. 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 ; 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 , when the player's strike ended the season prematurely with the Yankees having the best record in the American League.

In , 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.


Mattingly's monument in Monument Park
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 Stadiummarker 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."

Cooperstown consideration

As to Mattingly's induction into the Baseball Hall of Famemarker, detractors point to his relatively short career and that most of his offensive credentials were compacted into six quality seasons from 1984 to 1989. Mattingly has never been named on more than 28% of ballots; in 2006 he was down to 12% of the ballots (For election, a player must be listed by 75% of the voters). Mattingly's supporters for HOF induction point to his offensive numbers, and his historically exceptional Gold Glove defensive skills are comparable with his contemporary Kirby Puckett, who was a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. Puckett's career is considered by some as more consistent than Mattingly's. Puckett's postseason performances (including World Series championships in 1987 and 1991) are used to bolster an argument for Puckett, despite Mattingly's strong performance in his only post-season performance against the Seattle Mariners in the American League Divisional Series in . Mattingly's career was also similar to that of Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, both of whom were MVPs and nine-time Gold Glove winners. However, Sandberg's performance numbers compared more favorably against his position, second base. First basemen with similar career offensive numbers to Mattingly, such as Will Clark and Cecil Cooper, have generated little Hall of Fame interest. It was Puckett who dubbed Mattingly "Donnie Baseball."

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


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

Taylor was drafted in the 42nd round (1262nd overall) of the 2003 MLB 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."

Preston Mattingly was chosen in the first round (31st overall) of the June 2006 MLB draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently rated as a B- prospect in John Sickels 2007 Baseball Prospect Book. Sickels noted, "Position a question but has promising tools and bloodlines."

During the late 1980s and early 90s, Don Mattingly was owner of a restaurant in Evansville called "Mattingly's 23," after the uniform number he wore for most of his career. During his first two years (1982-1983), he wore uniform number 46.

When registering for hotel stays, Mattingly has used aliases, such as "Bruce Almighty", to avoid unwanted fan attention.

Post-retirement activity

Back with the 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 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 .

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.

Mattingly Sports

In 2005, Mattingly launched his new baseball and softball equipment company, Mattingly Sports. The company is based on the patented V-Grip baseball and softball bats. After watching his kids and their friends struggle with maintaining 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 leagues and associations including Little League Baseball, Babe Ruth including Ripken Baseball, Pony League, Dixie Youth, AABC, ASA, USSSA, National Federation of High Schools and the NCAA.

Los Angeles 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. 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. The Dodgers made the playoffs in 2008 and advanced to the National League Championship Series, largely behind the bat of mid-season acquisition Manny Ramirez, before losing the NLCS to the Philadelphia Phillies.

In the 2009 offseason, Mattingly was a finalist for the managerial position with the Cleveland Indians (for which Manny Acta was eventually hired). Following the interview process, Mattingly discussed his future with the Dodgers. He is the expected favorite to replace Joe Torre as the the Dodger's Manager after 2010, when Torre is expected to retire.

Pop culture and the infamous "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, 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. This led to huge media frenzy with reporters and talk radio repeatedly mocking the team so much so that the WPIX-TVmarker 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 recent 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.

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


  2. "BASEBALL; No More Split Ends as Mattingly Rejoins Yanks" and "BASEBALL; Mattingly Flap: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?" from the New York Times
  3. ; retrieved August 22, 2007

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