Q&A: Don Mattingly (cont.)
Posted: Friday June 15, 2007 9:49AM; Updated: Friday June 15, 2007 9:49AM
SI.com: Does that prestigious and glamour appeal to you?
Mattingly: It's funny because that part of it doesn't really do it for me. I'm more interested in the other part: being able to mold and shape a ballclub and getting them playing a certain way, bringing that attitude out that is a winning attitude and playing the game the proper way. You have to deal with all the other stuff that goes with that.
SI.com: You are a father of three sons. What does being a father mean to you?
Mattingly: Well, really it's kind of amazing to me that once you get your kids and you see them growing up, they just become so much more important than really anything you ever did. You just kind of put them first and I feel like I've learned so much from watching them and being involved with their lives and how they're reacting to situations. It kind of puts you back in situations when you were a kid, and situations with your own parents. So for me it's just been a huge learning experience and fulfilling to be a part of that. You know we all talk about how we didn't listen to our parents until we got a little older? I can tell the way my boys talk to me sometimes that it's like, "OK, Dad, whatever." And I can just almost feel what they're feeling because I remember feeling the same way (laughs).
SI.com: Preston was selected 31st overall by the Dodgers in last year's draft. One of the things your kids have had to deal with is being a son of someone who is very well-known. How have they handled that?
Mattingly: They've been pretty good about it. Both Taylor and Preston seem to handle it pretty well, but I'm sure there's times when it's probably hard on them. I know [my wife] Kim, when she went to see Pres play, they were getting on him a little bit in Michigan. You know the kid's 19, he's just starting to play. If he had been just anybody, they wouldn't have been getting on him like that. In A-ball you don't usually get that. So I'm sure there are times where they'd rather be just the regular guy like Derek Jeter when he first came through. It's like I told Preston: "It was lot easier for Derek Jeter to come to the minor leagues than it's going to be for you." It's not necessarily fair because he's trying to deal with the same anxiety that everybody else is. I don't think that's quite fair, but that's just the way it is.
SI.com: Were you and your father close with relation to sports?
Mattingly: When I was born my dad had to be close to 50, he was a little older and so he wasn't like he's going out to play catch with me or anything. That I learned from my older brothers. But going with him and my mom to all the events, I learned about family and participation and us all being involved. My dad never criticized. We'd go to the games, and we'd leave. I've told people I think it was one of the greatest gifts my dad ever gave me was that I was able to play with such freedom because I was never criticized, and not really praised either. It was just like you're playing and you'd come home and have dinner. I tell people I think I love playing so much because I had no fear of messing up.
SI.com: How did you avoid putting pressure on your sons?
Mattingly: I wanted to be more like my dad. As far as letting them play, letting them have fun, we never pushed the kids to play anything. We didn't want the boys to do anything they didn't like to do.
SI.com: Why did you get involved in the True Dads program?
Mattingly: Because it's a cool thing. The dynamic of fatherhood and the whole marketplace is kind of changing. There's more and more moms that work, so there's more and more dads at times that are home. I just think it's a time that we as dads, all over the country, I think it's really important to be involved with your kids. We can give a lot to our kids really, but we get so much. You get so much from being involved with your kids lives and being active with them. It's really the reason that I'm just excited to be a part of this. It's good to be involved in your kids lives and it's a rewarding experience for everybody. For the kids, it's something that really gives them strength down the road. Really, it's just a cool deal.