Q&A: Don Mattingly
Posted: Friday June 15, 2007 9:49AM; Updated: Friday June 15, 2007 9:49AM
Yankees bench coach Don Mattingly is the father of three sons, Taylor (22), Preston (19), and Jordon (15), and was recently named the spokesperson for Spike TV's TRUE DADS campaign, which celebrates fathers who take an active role in their children's lives. He spoke with SI.com this week about fatherhood, baseball and the prospect of managing the Yankees in the future:
SI.com: How much of a father figure do you consider Joe Torre?
Mattingly: You mean me, or for the players in general?
SI.com: Let's take both.
Mattingly: I see him as a guy that I really respect and learn from, and I look at him as someone being wise and having a lot of wisdom. For me, my father was a big part of my life. He just passed away this spring -- he was 91 years old. So I had a father in my life my whole time. I don't really look at Joe as a father figure. But I could understand someone that didn't have a dad becoming attached to a coach. I was very fortunate I had solid roots at home. I think that Joe is a father figure type, though, because he's so great with guys. He's understanding as far as the game goes and he knows what's happening. He's been through so much with different players, and he's played himself. He knows a lot of the feelings you're going through. So he's very wise, and fatherly to guys. He's pretty impressive along those lines.
SI.com: You've always talked about a desire to manage?
Mattingly: Oh yeah, definitely. And being around Joe and just watching him work, he's really giving as far sharing information and what he's thinking and the reasons why. So I just feel more prepared all the time. It's like when you start, you don't know if you'll be ready, and as you go along, you know you've got a ton more to learn. But you feel like you're getting closer and closer to being ready all the time. I feel so much more prepared to do it now than I did when we started the season.
SI.com: Are you in a Catch-22 situation because the potential exists that you could replace a guy who has been such an important mentor in your professional life?
Mattingly: Well, it's not uncomfortable because Joe's been so good to me and we talk about it. He basically tells me he thinks I can manage and he thinks I'd be a good one. So it's not like there's any secrets or anything else. But he also knows that I would never do anything to undermine him or his position. I feel like Joe should basically be able to write his own ticket. If Joe wants to keep managing, I think Joe should keep managing. He's earned that right, and he deserves that right. He's not done anything to let anybody know that he can't manage. He's earned all those rights and privileges and it should be as long as he wants. From my standpoint, I'm not really on any timetable. As a player, you're kind of on a timetable -- you know your clock's running and you've only got so many years to be able to play. But as a coach, you get better with time because you've been through more and you've seen more. It's almost the opposite. The longer you coach and are involved with the game, the more wisdom you gain. There's always situations that come up and different personalities and different people you deal with. You become more and more prepared, and you should get better and better at it as time goes on.
SI.com: Why would someone want to be the manager of the New York Yankees?
Mattingly: Well, I figure No. 1, if you just want to be the manager of the New York Yankees, it would be kind of weird. I think if you feel like you can manage a ballclub and get the most out of them, I think that's something different. So first you have to want to do that. You like the challenge of being able to get a club to play a certain way and have that club grow and get better and better, and help build that. Obviously, the Yankees are probably, if it's not the toughest job, it's one of the toughest jobs, because it's almost a no-win situation. It's so tough media-wise, and having to deal with that and what's goes on with the players. Then, on the outside of that, there is the thought that since they got all this money and spent all this money, they should win. It's a tough job. But why would you want to do it? Because, obviously, it's probably the most prestigious team in the world.
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