Later in October, Mattingly got calls from a couple of members of the Yankee organization—including new manager Dallas Green—urging him to try to settle his differences with Steinbrenner. Otherwise, he would be traded—and never mind that Mattingly's statistics over the past four years, including his relatively modest ones for 1988, put him in a class far above any other player in the game, as Murray Chass noted in The New York Times.
Mattingly made the call to the Boss. Kim could hear Steinbrenner's voice a room away from where her husband was holding the receiver. The conversation, often animated on Don's end as well, lasted close to an hour. "If I wasn't gone before, I'm gone now," Don told Kim. The next day, he got a call from a well-placed Yankee source. "Whatever you did, George has changed his mind," he was told. "You won't be traded."
"If they still trade me," he told his brother Michael a few days later, "they'll find out it was the biggest mistake they ever made. If they keep me, I'll make it the smartest move they ever made."
"Don started getting that look in his eye," Michael remembers. "All of a sudden, he was locked in, obsessed with 1989."
On another winter night at the restaurant, Mattingly was asked about the approaching season. "I don't set numerical goals," he said. "But why can't a player hit the ball hard four times a game—sometimes five times—162 games a year? Why not? Can you imagine what that season would be like? Every morning I'm out there running, every day that I pump iron, every day I hit the speed bag, every day I hit—that's what I get locked in on. No, not 162 games. More than that. The playoffs, the Series...."
"Can I interrupt for a second for an autograph?" asked a young woman. "You probably don't remember me, but I was a grade ahead of you and used to ride the bus to parochial school with you every day. I was real fat then."
"Did he pick on you?" the girl was asked.
"Not little Donnie," she said. "He wasn't like other kids. He was always polite and nice. A real Indiana boy."