Don Mattingly Remembers the “Boss” on July 4th

Baseball, a hot dog and pie always go together and so does the July 4th holiday. And the day always meant celebrating the Birthday of “The Boss” George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees. The late Yankees owner, who passed away in July of 2010 left an impact on the game and to those who were a part of his legacy.

So on the holiday baseball was played, and in New York at Citi Field. The Yankees lost their game in Chicago to the White Sox and the Mets had a late afternoon opening series game with the Don Mattingly managed Miami Marlins.

Mattingly, in his first year with the Marlins, after five years managing the Dodgers, has the Marlins in contention. His playing days in New York are memorable and still remains among the top Yankees who played under the Steinbrenner regime.

“I always had respect for the position he had as owner of the club,” said Mattingly in his office by the visitor’s clubhouse at Citi Field about an hour before game time. “One thing about Steinbrenner is, he always wanted to win at the end of the day.”

That philosophy of winning became a Mattingly theory. He had a not so successful stint in Los Angeles, taking over the job from Joe Torre, who also had his trials and tribulations working under “The Boss” in the Bronx, but there are four championship rings on his resume. Mattingly never got a ring but spent his entire 14-year Major League playing career with the Yankees.

And his Marlins are in the thick of a race in the NL East trailing the first place Washington Nationals by 6-½ games, and have been trading places the past two weeks with the Mets at second place in the division.

Yes, according to Don Mattingly it is the George Steinbrenner theory of always wanting to win. He was that way as a ballplayer, and now as the manager.

“They really hit our back end and that has been our strength,” Mattingly said about his bullpen that could not hold a lead in the late innings. The Mets would score eight unanswered runs and a Yoenis Cespedes two-run double in the eighth inning was the difference in a 8-6 win.

You could see the loss was difficult for Mattingly. Though relaxed and not in a tirade, the game and winning means everything just as it was when he played for “The Boss” in the Bronx.

He reflected about Steinbrenner before his Marlins took the field. Mattingly was reminded that July 4th was the birthday of “The Boss.” And then, he remembered this was that special day always, for the man who made winning and baseball different. July 4th was always baseball, and more than one special person was born on this day.

“You think of the birth of the United States and those freedoms, but you definitely think about him,” Mattingly said. “He supported me. After my career, he did some very nice things Kept me part of the organization and brought me back to coaching which really ends up bringing me here.”

“So I definitely appreciate everything about the Boss,” he said.

Steinbrenner came to appreciate and support his new first baseman in New York. He was the new fan favorite replacing the late Bobby Mercer. Fans in New York got to love their new face replacing Murcer. “The Boss” offered Mattingly the opportunity to embrace New York and their astute baseball fans. “

One thing about New York and me,” he said. “I was kind of a guy that was shy from a small town in Indiana One thing about New York was just be me and play. Fortunate the fans appreciated that. I went out to play my best baseball. That was one of the most important things for me”.

The one question has always been asked, why did “The Boss” bypass Mattingly, the coach, and anoint Joe Girardi as the manager to succeed Torre in Yankees pinstripes as the manager? He has always been a favorite of the fans and was a logical choice.

Mattingly will not touch the issue. That is in the past as he continues his venture of guiding the Marlins to a postseason. A young team, with two premiere stars in pitcher Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton, who had the most lucrative contract in the game, and the Marlins have that capability.

If not this year, perhaps next. They are that close, and Mattingly is definitely managing with that “Donnie Ball” attitude of hit and run, and taking the extra base. It is what made him one of the most beloved Yankees of all time.

“Hard for me to talk about something like that when I am in a situation,” Mattingly said regarding the recurring question about returning to New York as a coach or eventual manager.

“I am happy in Miami. “I always look at the Yankees as my home, as far as a player and anytime I fly into New York, I feel like I am home. The right decision was to hire Joe Girardi. Talk about one door opens, one door opens for me. Coaching under Steinbrenner opened the National League door and gave me a chance to manage.”

He added: “I will always look as the Yankees as my home.” And on this day, “The Boss” was remembered. Baseball was played, not in the Bronx but across town in Flushing and that did not matter because July 4th to Steinbrenner meant baseball no matter where it was played.

Happy Birthday to “The Boss.”

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Mancuso Twitter@Ring786

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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