March 01, 2008
Donnie Baseball's tribulations

As a lifelong Yankees fan, it breaks my heart to read this.

Four months ago, [Don] Mattingly was the presumed heir to one of the most prestigious jobs in sports - manager of the Yankees.

Today, after a stunning fall from grace, Donnie Baseball finds himself on the outskirts of the game.

Consistently the recipient of the loudest ovations at Old Timer's Day at Yankee Stadium, Mattingly was long known as George Steinbrenner's favorite player. The former first baseman seemed certain to succeed Joe Torre last October.

The Boss and his sons, Hank and Hal, chose to hire Joe Girardi. Once the deal was done, Mattingly told the Yankees he had no interest in coming back as a coach.

He rebounded by landing the coveted position of hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Nov. 8. He would, once again, be working for Torre, who had been named Dodgers manager three days earlier. Almost immediately baseball writers speculated that Mattingly could replace Torre after his three-year deal expired.

Then, it all fell apart.

Mattingly resigned his post last month to tend to his growing trouble at home. It may not have been the only time he walked away from the game he loves to protect his three children.

In 1995, just a month after he hit .417 in his first - and only - postseason series, Mattingly quit the game. The same year, his wife was arrested in Indiana for driving a car while intoxicated, court records show.

Though he publicly blamed his bad back for his retirement, Mattingly's friends said his decision was partially fueled by his wife's drinking.

"She drinks, and it's a problem," one friend told the Daily News, requesting anonymity because he remains close to Mattingly and his estranged wife. "Don was worried."

Mattingly alluded to as much earlier this month when he told The News: "This is not the first time we've all had to go through this."

I have nothing but fond memories of Don Mattingly, and I wish him and his family all the best in dealing with these issues. Link via David Pinto.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 01, 2008 to Baseball
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