Donnie Baseball, Don Mattingly, former Yankees first baseman is celebrating his 55th birthday today. Still beloved among fans, and “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” (Daily News).
It is easy to see why. Mattingly, with his blue collar work ethic, was a: 6x all-star, AL MVP, 9x Gold Glove Award winner, 3x Silver Slugger Award winner, AL batting champion, and AL RBI leader.
A staple at first base during his playing career in the Bronx (1982-1995), Mattingly was named team captain from 1991-1995. After officially retiring from baseball before the 1997 season, that summer, the Yankees retired his number 23 in the illustrious Monument Park. His plaque reads: “A humble man of grace and dignity, a captain who led by example, proud of the pinstripe tradition and dedicated to the pursuit of excellence, a Yankee forever”. True: Mattingly also served as a special instructor to the Yankees from 2004-2007.
Growing up with humble beginnings in Evansville, Indiana, Mattingly credits his opposite-field hitting prowess to the configuration of his backyard; more specifically, to the tree that prevented home runs in “right field”.
A lesson in how to become a great opposite field hitter from today’s birthday boy, Don Mattingly. #HappyBirthdayhttps://t.co/OCuV3HFVC2
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) April 20, 2016
In a short Youtube piece, Mattingly takes the viewers to his former little league field (which his team was able to use once a week) and explains this is where he learned to hit off a tee. The next stop in the video is to Bosse Field, home of the Evansville Otters, where a young Mattingly would chase and jockey for foul balls outside the stadium walls with his peers.
Mattingly is currently the manager of the Miami Marlins, and will be celebrating from the home dugout tonight as the Nationals take on his club at 7:10pm. Perhaps he will be able to celebrate soon with an “Ol’ 23 Stout” from his brother-in-law’s pizzeria and brewery in Evansville, Indiana.