Martin with the Yankees in 1954
|Second baseman / Manager|
Born: May 16, 1928|
Died: December 25, 1989 (aged 61)|
Johnson City, New York
|April 18, 1950 for the New York Yankees|
Last MLB appearance
|October 1, 1961 for the Minnesota Twins|
|Runs batted in||333|
Career highlights and awards
Alfred Manuel "Billy" Martin (May 16, 1928 – December 25, 1989) was an American Major League Baseball second baseman and manager. He is best known as the manager of the New York Yankees, a position he held five different times. As Yankees manager, he led the team to consecutive American League pennants in
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Martin had a distinguished playing career in the 1950s, highlighted by his years with the Yankees during which he performed at a high level in appearances in the World Series. He was also selected for the American League All Star team in 1956. In these years his infamous propensity for fisticuffs became established, both on and off the baseball field.
As a manager, Martin was known for turning losing teams into winners, and for arguing animatedly with umpires, including a widely parodied routine in which he kicked dust on their feet. However, he was criticized for not getting along with veteran players and owners, burning out young pitchers, and for having an addiction to alcohol. During the 1969 through 1988 period as a manager, Martin totaled 1,253 victories with a .553 winning percentage.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Playing career
- 3 Managing career
- 4 Managerial record
- 5 Honors
- 6 In popular culture
- 7 Personal life
- 8 Death
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Martin was born as Alfred Manuel Pesano, Jr. to Alfred Manuel Pesano, Sr. and Joan Salvini "Jenny" Pesano in Berkeley, California. He was of Portuguese and Italian descent, as his father was a native of the Azores and his mother was born to a large Italian family in California. Alfred, Sr. abandoned the family eight months later; for this reason, Jenny always referred to Alfred, her second husband, as the "jackass." (She had been married before to a native Italian named Donato Pisani, whom her family arranged her to marry, and later married a singer named Jack Downey and took his name; the marriage lasted until Jack's death many years later.) Eventually, Jenny changed the family name to "Martin." He began being called "Billy" after his grandmother (Joan's mother) started calling him "Bello" (Italian masculine for "beautiful"; Martin said in his autobiography Number One that she would also call him "Bellitz,", a dialectical version of the same word). As Martin grew up in West Berkeley his mother took careful notice not to let her son know his actual name, not wanting him to know he shared the same name with Alfred Pesano. In fact, such careful care had been taken to hide Martin's birthname from him that he didn't find out until entering junior high; on his first day in Seventh Grade, while the teacher took attendance, his teacher called on "Alfred Martin" and young Billy thought she had skipped over him.
While attending Berkeley High School, Martin tried out for and began playing for the Oakland Junior Oaks, affiliated with the Pacific Coast League's Oakland Oaks club. After graduation in 1946, he was signed by Eddie Leishman, also a Berkeley native, to play for him for Idaho Falls the Class D Pioneer League, hitting .254 in 32 games. Late in the 1947 season, he was signed to the Oaks, where his manager was Casey Stengel, who admired his aggressive play. Martin played for the Oaks in 1948 and 1949.
Martin began his major league career in
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- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year season, Martin had career highs in home runs (15), RBIs (75), doubles (24), triples (6), and times hit by pitch (6). He was the most valuable player of the 1953 World Series, as he batted .500 with a .958 slugging percentage and delivered with an RBI in Game 6 to clinch the series. Martin was an All-Star in
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Martin retired in
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|This section lends undue weight to certain ideas, incidents, or controversies. (September 2013)|
Martin was well known for drinking to excess and for rowdy behavior when drinking. In
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On August 4, 1960, Martin, then playing for the Reds, charged the mound in the second inning after receiving a brushback pitch from Chicago Cubs pitcher Jim Brewer. Martin threw his bat at Brewer, who picked up the bat and started to hand it to Martin as he approached. Martin punched Brewer in the right eye, breaking his cheekbone. Brewer was hospitalized for two months, and Martin served a five-day suspension. The Cubs sued Martin for $1,000,000 ($7,971,879 as of 2020), for the loss of Brewer's services. While the Cubs dropped their case, Brewer pursued his, and in
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Martin spent eight years (
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- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year, Martin's only season as manager of the Twins, he won a division championship but the Twins were swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the first ever American League Championship Series. He was fired after the season following an August
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Martin managed the Detroit Tigers from
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- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year. He guided the team to a first place finish in
- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year. During the 1972 American League Championship Series, Oakland Athletics shortstop Bert Campaneris threw his bat at Detroit pitcher Lerrin LaGrow after being hit by a pitch. In the ensuing brawl, an infuriated Martin had to be restrained by umpires and teammates to prevent him from going after Campaneris. The Tigers lost the series three games to two.
While posing for a baseball card as the manager for the Detroit Tigers in 1972, Martin gave photographers the middle finger. The gesture went unnoticed until after the card's release.
Martin also played a key role in the discovery of Ron LeFlore in a Michigan state prison. Martin was lured to Michigan State Prison by another inmate who knew Martin. The unorthodox Martin witnessed LeFlore's speed and strength. Martin helped LeFlore get permission for day-parole and a try out at Tiger Stadium. In the summer of 1973, the Tigers signed him to a contract, which enabled LeFlore to meet the conditions for parole. Later that year, Martin brazenly told the press that he had ordered his pitchers to throw spitballs and shine balls, reportedly because Gaylord Perry was frequently throwing spitballs when the Tigers faced him. American League president Joe Cronin suspended him for three days, but just as he was due to come off the suspension, the Tigers fired him.
Martin's next managerial job was with the Texas Rangers, where he took the club from last place to second place in
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- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year. He was hired by owner Bob Short replacing Whitey Herzog at the end of the 1973 season. He surprised the baseball world in 1974 by helping the Rangers to an 84-76 record after they had two consecutive 100+ loss seasons. But after the 1975 team went 44-51 under Martin, and after a confrontation with new Rangers owner Brad Corbett, Martin was fired on July 20 and Frank Lucchesi, one of Martin's coaches and a man who Martin thought was undermining him to Corbett so he could take the managerial position himself, was named as his replacement.
First stint with the Yankees
Martin was not out of work for very long, as the Yankees had also fired their manager, Bill Virdon. The former Yankee second baseman was hired to take his place, marking Martin's first time in a Yankee uniform since the 1957 trade. With Martin at the helm, the Yankees went 30-26 in their final 56 games of the 1975 season; he then managed them to the World Series in
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To make matters worse for Martin, he learned that Steinbrenner was looking to trade his manager to the Chicago White Sox, and in return would receive White Sox manager Bob Lemon. Martin finally had enough, and following the July 23 game in Chicago Martin lashed out at his star player and his owner. Martin told reporters in Chicago, "They deserve each other. One's a born liar [Jackson], and the other's convicted [Steinbrenner]." (Martin was referring to Steinbrenner's conviction for making illegal donations to Richard Nixon's 1972 election campaign, a conviction that resulted in Steinbrenner being suspended from baseball for 15 months).
The next day, having thought over the impact of his words Martin resigned in a tearful press conference in Kansas City (it was said, including by Martin in his 1980 autobiography, that Steinbrenner had sent Al Rosen, who was the team president at the time, to fire Martin at the hotel but Martin resigned before he could). Steinbrenner replaced Martin with Lemon, who had lost his job with the White Sox approximately a month earlier despite winning AL Manager of the Year in 1977. Soon afterward, at the annual Old-Timers' Game at Yankee Stadium, in a grandstanding gesture and an overwhelming demand by the fans, the Yankees had public address announcer Bob Sheppard introduce an unemployed Martin as the Yankees' next manager for the
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Second stint with the Yankees
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Martin, an East Bay native born and raised in Berkeley, resurfaced with the Oakland Athletics, where he perfected a style of play that became known as "Billyball" (characterized as featuring aggressive base running). Martin won the American League West Division title in the split season of
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Martin was fired from both positions when the1982 Athletics plummeted to a 68-94 record, largely because he'd overworked many of the pitchers from the 1981 team. Years later, Rob Neyer estimated that the four top starters from the 1981 team threw anywhere from 120-140 pitches per complete game--a heavy workload for pitchers as young as the members of the 1981 staff were.
Remaining stints with the Yankees
Martin returned to the New York Yankees in
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During the 1983 season, Martin was involved in one of the most controversial regular season games, known as the Pine Tar Incident, where umpires nullified a go-ahead home run by Yankee nemesis, Kansas City Royals third baseman George Brett, when Martin protested that there was too much pine tar on his bat. Ultimately, American League President Lee MacPhail ruled in favor of the Royals' protest, reinstating the home run, and replaying the game from the point of the nullification. At the start of the replayed game, Martin tried to protest on the grounds that Brett had missed a base. The umpires working this game, however, had anticipated this, and had obtained an affidavit from the crew who had worked the original game saying that Brett had indeed touched all the bases.
On September 22, 1985, while at a hotel bar in Baltimore, Maryland, Martin fought one of his pitchers, Ed Whitson, who was Script error: No such module "convert". taller and Script error: No such module "convert". heavier. Martin suffered a broken arm, bruises, and cuts, while Whitson had a broken rib and a split lip. He was fired after the 1985 season.
At the time of his death, Martin was preparing to manage the Yankees a sixth time for the
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|Team||From||To||Regular season record||Post–season record|
|W||L||Win %||W||L||Win %|
|New York Yankees||1975||1978||279||192||.592||10||10||.500|
|New York Yankees||1979||1979||55||40||.579||0||0||.000|
|New York Yankees||1983||1983||91||71||.562||0||0||.000|
|New York Yankees||1985||1985||91||54||.628||0||0||.000|
|New York Yankees||1988||1988||40||28||.588||0||0||.000|
|Billy Martin's number 1 was retired by the New York Yankees in 1986.|
- REDIRECT Template:Baseball year, the Yankees retired Martin's uniform number 1 and dedicated a plaque in his honor for Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. The plaque contains the words, There has never been a greater competitor than Billy. Martin told the crowd, "I may not have been the greatest Yankee to put on the uniform, but I am the proudest."
The baseball fields at Bushrod Park in Oakland California are named for baseball player and manager Billy Martin 
Many of his contemporaries have remarked on Martin's ability to surprise the opposition and his outside-the-box thinking. Commenting on Martin's strategy as a manager, Dave Winfield has stated that opposing players would often ask each other, "What's Billy doing now?" George Steinbrenner has stated that when Martin was in his best form, he was a "baseball genius." He has also been cited as an influence to other prominent managers, including Lou Piniella. Martin both preceded and succeeded Piniella as Yankees manager.
In popular culture
Martin was a guest celebrity ring announcer at the inaugural WrestleMania in March 1985, during his time as the manager of the Yankees, where he was referred to as 'New York's Number One'. The crowd gave him a standing ovation. Martin was the first baseball celebrity to appear at WrestleMania.
On May 24, 1986, on the season finale of Saturday Night Live, co-host Martin was "fired" by executive producer Lorne Michaels for being "drunk" in a skit, slurring his lines. During the goodnights, Martin "sets fire" to the dressing room in retaliation. In 1988, on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update," comedian Dennis Miller opened the sports with, "In Calgary tonight, Katarina Witt won the gold medal in figure skating, prompting Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to fire manager Billy Martin."
Martin was married four times and had two children, a daughter named Kelly Ann and a son named Billy Joe. His first marriage was to Lois Berndt, by whom he had his daughter. She divorced him in 1955, after he had contested the action for more than a year on the grounds that he was Catholic. He married Gretchen Winkler in 1961, by whom he had his son, and stayed married to her until 1979, when the two divorced. He was married a third time, to Heather Ervolino, while he was managing in Oakland, but was never faithful to his third wife and eventually married his mistress, a woman named Jillian Guiver, in January 1988.
Martin was working as a special consultant to George Steinbrenner when he was killed in a low speed, single vehicle collision during an ice storm at the end of the driveway to his farm in Port Crane, north of Binghamton, New York, on Christmas Day 1989. He was pronounced dead at a hospital in Johnson City, New York, where efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. Reports of the crash indicated that Martin had been drinking earlier, and that his friend William Reedy consequently was driving him home in Martin's Ford pickup truck. However, several conspiracy theorists and writers (including Peter Golenbock, in his 1994 biography of Martin Wild, High and Tight) have asserted that Martin was the driver, and that Bill Reedy and Jill Martin covered up the truth for legal reasons. According to the HBO TV series Autopsy, forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden performed the examination on Martin and investigated the accident scene, including the pick-up truck in which Martin died. The examination revealed that Martin's impact injuries were all on the right side, and that hair and other DNA found on the right side of the shattered windshield belonged to Martin, who was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. The final conclusion of the examination was that Reedy drove the pick-up and Martin was the passenger. As per request of the family no autopsy was performed.
Martin was eulogized by Cardinal John O'Connor at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, before his funeral at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York. His grave is located about Script error: No such module "convert". from the grave of Babe Ruth in Section 25. The following epitaph, said by Martin himself at his number retiring ceremony at Yankee Stadium in 1986, appears on the headstone: I may not have been the greatest Yankee to put on the uniform, but I was the proudest. Former United States President Richard Nixon and Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, along with many former New York Yankees greats attended Martin's funeral service.
- In-line citations
- Keenan, Jimmy; Russo, Frank. Billy Martin. Society for American Baseball Research, 2014.
- Archived January 28, 2006 at the Wayback Machine Martin's father from the Azores Portugal, later migrated to Hawaii
- Nick Acocella. "Billy battled opponents, himself". ESPN. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- Harold Friend (October 15, 2009). "Billy Martin's Great 1953 World Series". Bleacher Report.
- "Yanks Play the Copa". The New York Times. May 16, 1957.
- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
- Webley, Kayla (2010-07-13). "Hiring and Firing Billy Martin - Top 10 George Steinbrenner Moments - TIME". Content.time.com. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
- Neyer, Rob (2006). Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders. New York City: Fireside. ISBN 0-7432-8491-7.
- Moss Klein (1985-09-30). "In one of his most bruising bouts, Yankee manager Billy - 09.30.85 - SI Vault". Sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
- "Billy Martin". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
- Star-Ledger file photo. "George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin on Hall of Fame veterans committee ballot". NJ.com. Retrieved 2011-10-04.
- Bloom, Barry M. (December 6, 2010). "Gillick newest member of Hall of Fame". MLB.com. Retrieved December 6, 2010.
- "SNL Transcript, 24 May 1986". Snltranscripts.jt.org. 1986-05-24. Retrieved 2011-10-04.
- Scott, Ronald B. (1977-05-23). "Billy Martin Could Be One of the Great Yankee Managers—if He Can Keep His Temper and His Job". People.com. Retrieved 2011-10-04.
- Amy Wilson (March 13, 1988). "Mrs. Billy: Wife In The Big Leagues". Sun-Sentinel.
- — Kathryn Williams. "Billy Martin's - - Upper East Side - New York Store & Shopping Guide". Nymag.com. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
- "Billy Martin's Western Store To the Stars Closes on Upper East Side - Upper East Side & Roosevelt Island - DNAinfo.com New York". Dnainfo.com. 2011-03-10. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
- Chass, Murray (1989-12-26). "Billy Martin of the Yankees Killed in Crash on Icy Road". New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved 2011-07-21.
- Examination: Billy Martin[dead link]
- Murray Chass (December 30, 1989). "Mourners Pack Cathedral for Martin's Funeral". The New York Times.
- Further reading
- The Golden Game: The Story of California Baseball, by Kevin Nelson, California Historical Society Press, San Francisco (2004), pp. 242–254.
- McKelvey, G. Richard (2004). All bat, no glove: a history of the designated hitter. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 180–181. ISBN 0-7864-1944-X. Retrieved 2011-09-28.
- Pennington, Bill (2015). Billy Martin, Baseball's Flawed Genius. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0544022092. Retrieved 2014-12-18.
|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to Billy Martin.|
|40x40px||Wikiquote has quotations related to: Billy Martin|
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Billy Martin managerial career statistics at Baseball-Reference.com
- Baseball Hall of Fame - 2008 Veterans Committee candidate profile
- Baseball Hall of Fame - 2007 Veterans Committee candidate profile at the Wayback Machine (archived April 20, 2007)
- N.Y. Times Obituary for Billy Martin
- Billy Martin at Find a Grave
- The Bronx is Burning ESPN miniseries at the Wayback Machine (archived July 1, 2007)
|Minnesota Twins third base coach
| Succeeded by|
|Denver Bears manager
May 27–September 8
| Succeeded by|
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