Yankees welcome Don Mattingly back to the Stadium with the Dodgers

Don Mattingly returned to Yankee Stadium with the Dodgers. Credit: Getty Images
Don Mattingly returned to Yankee Stadium with the Dodgers.
Credit: Getty Images

Many Yankee fans in their 30s probably had the famous Don Mattingly “Hit Man” posters on their walls in tribute to the former Yankee first baseman’s dominant seasons in the mid-1980s.

Wednesday’s doubleheader will be their chance to express appreciation for Mattingly in a setting other than Old-Timer’s Day as he returns to the Bronx for the second time since leaving with Joe Torre following the 2007 season.

Appropriately enough, Mattingly’s pregame press conference on Tuesday lasted 23 minutes and while heavy rains fell, a montage of his highlights played on the scoreboard.

“Obviously, it’s good to come back,” he said. “I always really enjoy coming back into the city. … It’s always been, for me, great. You don’t quite understand the relationship, honestly. I came from a small town, loved playing, came here and just played. I pretty much tried to keep it as simple as that, and they seemed to appreciate that. It was nice for me, because I didn’t have to do anything except play.”

This time it was as manager of the Dodgers, who became the last NL team to visit any version of Yankee Stadium since interleague play started in 1997. The last time Mattingly visited was in 2010 with Joe Torre at a ceremony unveiling a monument for George Steinbrenner.

“I’m excited to see him,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I had a chance to work alongside him; obviously I’m a big fan of his. He’s been such a great part of Yankee history, the way he played the game. I’m anxious to hear who gets the loudest cheer today, him or Mo [Rivera] if he comes in the game. So I think that’s probably the only one who can measure up and he deserves that.”

Despite his team being well under .500 and facing speculation about his job security, Mattingly is a beloved figure in the Bronx. Along with Bobby Murcer, he might be the most popular Yankee to never win a World Series.

Mattingly pointed out that despite the different stadium and facility upgrades, he still saw most of the same people from across the street.

“It’s not the building,” he said. “It’s the people. What makes it is the people; it feels like the same.”

Mattingly’s debut came in 1982 after the Yankees lost the World Series in six games to the Dodgers. Steinbrenner took out an ad in newspapers apologizing for the loss and claimed to have punched fans in a Los Angeles elevator.

Before reaching the playoffs during his final season in 1995 under Buck Showalter, Mattingly played for eight managers. His debut came under Gene Michael and Mattingly performed well in three of the five managerial stints of Billy Martin.

After coaching with the Yankees during the latter years of the Torre regime, Mattingly was considered a sentimental favorite to be the successor. Instead, it went to Girardi, who had managerial experience from one year with the Marlins in 2006.

Mattingly often has said that not getting that position was a blessing as it gave him time to attend to a personal matter. It also gave him a chance to experience the National League in an organization with similar history to the Yankees.

Interleague play began in 1997 and the current version where teams rotate opponents started in 2002. In the first year, the Yankees had home games with San Francisco and Arizona, which were appealing matchups based on World Series history.

Perhaps the most appealing one against an NL West opponent is the Dodgers, who lost to the Yankees five times in the World Series before finally winning it all in 1955 with Jonny Podres pitching a shutout in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium.

The Dodgers have had better championship success since moving the Los Angeles with titles in 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988 to go along with World Series appearances in 1966, 1977 and 1978.

The Yankees visited the Dodgers in 2004 and 2010 and nearly played them in the 2009 World Series.

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.

Local

Man dies trapped in elevator shaft at Bronx…

A man in his twenties died after being trapped in an elevator shaft of a Bronx building early Monday, police said.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…