SI Vault
 
Oh No, Not Again
Steve Wulf
May 06, 1985
Fired seven times as a manager, Billy Martin was hired for a fourth term by the floundering Yankees
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
May 06, 1985

Oh No, Not Again

Fired seven times as a manager, Billy Martin was hired for a fourth term by the floundering Yankees

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

The last straw may have come on April 22, when only four Yankees on the roster showed up at the Stadium for a voluntary workout on an off day. Steinbrenner thought the workout should have been mandatory. "I'm damned disappointed in the turnout, especially after a team loses two of three to the Cleveland Indians, who aren't exactly the Detroit Tigers," he said. "But Yogi's running the club, he's the manager so it's fine with me."

A storm watch was put into effect, and when the rumor that Martin might come back floated down to a veteran Yankee, that player said, "You screw people like Steinbrenner does and you get yours eventually. We're fed up. Everybody likes and respects Yogi. The other guy...well, when we lose, Yogi doesn't hide in his office. He stays at the door of the clubhouse and pats us on the back."

Not only were the Yankees losing, but the Mets were winning—fans, as well as games. New Yorkers were falling in love with Gary Carter and Dwight Gooden while Henderson was recuperating in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. from an ankle injury. When Henderson finally showed up, at that infamous Monday workout, his first words were, "I don't need no press now." He made his official debut in a series against the Red Sox. A total of just 71,615 fans were at Yankee Stadium for the three games, in which Henderson went 2 for 15, left 16 runners on base and had one error and no steals.

Says one AL East general manager about Martin's return, "It's a clear indication that George is overcome by the Mets' taking publicity away from him. George can't stand the Yankees not being the preeminent team in New York, so he feels he has to do whatever he can for publicity." Sure enough, the New York papers gave Martin's fourth coming royal treatment, far overshadowing the play given the Mets for moving to within a half game of the Expos in the NL East with a thrilling, 18-inning 5-4 win over Pittsburgh.

When Martin talked to SI senior writer Ron Fimrite on Sunday, he could hardly contain himself—not about the team's prospects, but about the rules he planned to impose on the Yankees. "They'll wear coats and ties while traveling," he said. "They have to be in three hours after a night game, or by midnight after a day game. No golf or public appearances on game days. I'll have additional rules on drug abuse. All radios must have headsets. When I call a practice on an off day, attendance will be mandatory. I'll have a system of fines: $500 for a first offense, $1,000 for a second, $1,000 and a suspension for a third."

As for actual changes on the Yankees, Martin gave his coaches new signs for the hit-and-run and suicide squeeze. He may move Griffey up to second in the lineup behind Henderson and move Willie Randolph down. He would like to get Dave Righetti back in the starting rotation, but he realizes his relief pitching would be nothing without him. Martin wants another lefthanded hitter to DH, which should make Baylor even happier. Martin will also take coach Lou Piniella under his wing and groom him as a replacement. When will Piniella replace Billy? "In a couple of years," said Martin.

In a way, the players have themselves to blame for Martin's return. They had a manager whom they liked and respected, and when they had to win for him, they didn't. When they scraped up only four guys for a workout, they probably lost their freedom.

One by one, the Yankees filed into Berra's office after they heard the news. Yogi's son Dale was the first one in, of course. Then came Randolph, who has seen 10 of these changes in 10 years with the team. Winfield gave Berra a big hug. Mattingly, the most upset of all, left the office with tears in his eyes.

Later, Dale talked about what his father had told him: "He said, 'You have your future ahead of you. Mine is behind me. I've had my career. Now I want you to go have a great career. Don't let this get you down. You've known Billy since you were a kid. Just play hard, that's all he asks. I'll be watching you.'

"He's a great man, my father. He didn't deserve this."

1 2