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Friday, March 25, 2022

Yankees great Don Mattingly is subject of new MLB Network documentary

Donnie Baseball will be chronicled on the network built for baseball fans.

The Post has learned that MLB Network will debut a documentary on Don Mattingly, arguably the greatest Yankee to never win a World Series with the organization, on Sunday, April 3.

The film will be aptly titled “Donnie Baseball”.

Speakers in the documentary will include former Yankees manager and current Mets skipper Buck Showalter, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, former teammates Wade Boggs, Bernie Williams, Ron Guidry and Mike Pagliarulo, broadcasters Michael Kay and Suzyn Waldman, Mattingly’s high school coach Quentin Merkel and Post baseball columnist Joel Sherman.

“It’s probably very hard to think of baseball in the 1980s, especially the mid-to-late 1980s, where he isn’t the face of it,” Sherman, who was the Post’s beat writer covering the Yankees from 1989 through 1995, says in the documentary.

“He’s as good a player as I’ve ever seen in my career,” Guidry says.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 25, 2022 at 12:54 PM | 98 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: don mattingly, yankees

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   1. DL from MN Posted: March 25, 2022 at 01:29 PM (#6069039)
When is the Lou Whitaker documentary?
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 25, 2022 at 01:35 PM (#6069040)
Was there ever anything particularly interesting about Mattingly other than that he was good at baseball? I'm wondering what the angle of a documentary would be. "So there was this guy, and he was a really good hitter..." doesn't seem too compelling.
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: March 25, 2022 at 01:42 PM (#6069041)
well, his ex-wife's grim story of alcohol-induced antics is pretty compelling, and that impacted him and his kids.
   4. JJ1986 Posted: March 25, 2022 at 01:51 PM (#6069043)
“It’s probably very hard to think of baseball in the 1980s, especially the mid-to-late 1980s, where he isn’t the face of it,”
"the face" singular? I know it was harder to watch out-of-market games back then, but come on.
   5. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: March 25, 2022 at 02:03 PM (#6069048)
“It’s probably very hard to think of baseball in the 1980s, especially the mid-to-late 1980s, where he isn’t the face of it,”

That's just bias because of all the playoff success the mid-to-late 1980s Yankees enjoyed.
   6. KronicFatigue Posted: March 25, 2022 at 02:13 PM (#6069049)
There are middle aged Yankees fan that only know two versions of the Yankees: playoff-esque and teams led by Mattingly. It makes him way more memorable than a better player on the great teams.

But no, a documentary is not necessary.
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 25, 2022 at 02:25 PM (#6069052)
Wow, some real cynics here!

When I was a kid, living in the midwest, in a town that hates the Yankees, kids in our neighhborhood playing baseball would pretend they were Don Mattingly. Coaches would try to get us to work harder by telling us about Mattingly's legendary work ethic (he took 1,000 BP swings or whatever). And I think a lot of fans around baseball, even those that hated the Yankees, were glad to see him finally make the playoffs in '95. He was one of the biggest stars of my childhood and he'd probably be in the Hall if his back didn't act up his 30s, I'm looking forward to the documentary.
   8. Howie Menckel Posted: March 25, 2022 at 02:26 PM (#6069053)
he had his own restaurant in his hometown of Evansville, Indiana that I think closed down the year of his retirement - locals chose chain eateries instead, and rumor was his wife was, well, "a regular" there.

some poignancy to that.

I covered some Yankees games late in his career. he wasn't an extrovert by any means, but Mattingly knew his role as team leader meant daily pre-game clubhouse chats with the 15 or 20 or so media members. he was a good listener, and tried to give meaningful answers. but he seemed, oh, wistful. at the time I took it as just being a once-great athlete who now was many years from a peak he knew he would never see again.

what I didn't know was that when Mattingly went home, that apparently was no picnic either.

the most boring coach in the NBA to talk to in the 1990s was Lenny Wilkens - and nobody finished second.
I never would have believed anyone could write anything interesting about him.

then Sports Illustrated's Gary Smith writes a feature on Wilkens - which starts out with nobody he knows seeming to be able to come up with a single anecdote about him.

Smith dug deeper - and still waters really do run deep sometimes
   9. DL from MN Posted: March 25, 2022 at 02:34 PM (#6069055)
I guess at least it isn't another documentary about the Mets.

The mid-80s Royals could use some love. Saberhagen should be at least as close to Hall of Fame consideration as Mattingly. Growing up I had a George Brett model glove and a George Brett model bat. I usually think 80s = George Brett way before I think of Mattingly.
   10. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: March 25, 2022 at 02:40 PM (#6069057)
I had the same thought as #2. Maybe there is more to Mattingly's story than I realize but he never struck me as a guy who would be documentary-worthy. That doesn't mean he wasn't a great player and one who even this diehard Red Sox fan loved but he never seemed like a particularly interesting dude.
   11. villageidiom Posted: March 25, 2022 at 02:57 PM (#6069061)
Who is the face of 80s baseball, if not Don Mattingly? Because I know it wasn't Don Mattingly.

I think the answer is either Rickey Henderson or Earl Weaver.

Yeah, Brett is a good nominee. Retroactively I think people will say Jack Morris, but at the time, no. Fernando Valenzuela was too early; Jose Canseco was too late. But I still don't think either of them rise above Rickey or Earl.

Arguably Mattingly wasn't even the face of 80s baseball in New York.
   12. Itchy Row Posted: March 25, 2022 at 03:18 PM (#6069066)
The 80s weren't Earl Weaver's decade. Ripken and Murray might be in the conversation, though.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: March 25, 2022 at 03:26 PM (#6069068)
C'mon folks, MLB network has a lot of hours to fill. I'm surprised they aren't down to doing a 2-hour documentary on a guy who collects UL Washington's old toothpicks.
   14. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 25, 2022 at 03:28 PM (#6069069)
The face of baseball in the 80s was Pete Rose. He rode the wave of 70s stars into the early 80s, and used his tenacity and grit to carry his new team the Phillies to two World Series appearances, another NLDS, and a World Title. 1984 and 1985 were about Pete's chase and passing of Ty Cobb, while serving as the last player-manager ever. 1986 was seeing how high he could take the record. In 1988, now simply a manager, he was suspended 30 games for shoving an umpire. In 1989, he agreed to a permanent banishment from the game.
   15. The Duke Posted: March 25, 2022 at 03:29 PM (#6069072)
Is the title "second best first baseman in NY in the 80s"?
   16. Cris E Posted: March 25, 2022 at 03:41 PM (#6069074)
Arguably Mattingly wasn't even the face of 80s baseball in New York.

Exactly, he wasn't even on Seinfeld.

I suppose there's something to having a short, high-average, doubles-hitting 1B as the face of the 80s as opposed to the coming wall of muscle-bound HR hulks in the 90s. But the 80s were speed (Rickey and Vince Coleman), defense (Ozzie Smith), hitting for average (Mattingly, Boggs, Gwynn) and fun managers (Earl, Whitey, Sparky). I don't think Donny Baseball was the guy, or at least the best guy available.

   17. Walt Davis Posted: March 25, 2022 at 03:45 PM (#6069075)
One of the "problems" with the 80s is the lack of a "face." Have we forgotten "Jack Morris, winningest pitcher in the 80s?" The "stars" -- i.e. the guys getting lots of hits, Brett, Gwynn, Yount -- were stuck in the backwaters. The 1988 Dodgers (the only team with 2 WS titles in the 80s) had a starting lineup of Scioscia, Stubbs, Sax, Griffin, Jeff Hamilton, Gibson, John Shelby, Mike Marshall with Mr Personality Orel Hershiser as their #1 pitcher. Jeff Hamilton? Even I don't remember him.

Given their presence on cable and MVPs, arguably Sandberg and Murphy were the face of the 80s. Fernando had a solid run. You could make an argument for Schmidt as the face of the early 80s. But we probably do have to give it to "Donnie Baseball" because somebody titled him "Donnie Baseball" and the media ran with it.
   18. John DiFool2 Posted: March 25, 2022 at 03:49 PM (#6069077)
17: I know the reasons why he isn't, but Wade Boggs really belongs in that discussion too.
   19. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: March 25, 2022 at 04:00 PM (#6069080)
Who is the face of 80s baseball, if not Don Mattingly?


Ozzie Smith. Easily. I grew up in a city without a team, where the nearest team was the Mariners. Portland was about evenly split between Mariners and Giants fans, with a few Dodgers and A's fans thrown in for good measure. Ozzie Smith was the guy. He did the backflips, he fielded the grounders waaaaaaaaaaay behind second base, and he won the World Series. We all loved him, and every shortstop wanted to be him.

There were other "faces" -- Hershiser, Kirk Gibson after his legendary dinger, Ryne Sandberg. There were better players (Rickey). But Ozzie Smith was the guy.
   20. winnipegwhip Posted: March 25, 2022 at 04:01 PM (#6069081)
Well we may get some mention of the Saskatchewan Roughriders as Donnie's brother was the backup to QB Ron Lancaster in the mid 1970's.
   21. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: March 25, 2022 at 04:15 PM (#6069085)
17: I know the reasons why he isn't, but Wade Boggs really belongs in that discussion too.


Now THERE'S a guy I suspect about whom a pretty entertaining if R-rated documentary could be made. Between the epic beer drinking and willing himself invisible to avoid being robbed...
   22. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 25, 2022 at 04:27 PM (#6069089)
Arguably Mattingly wasn't even the face of 80s baseball in New York.


I'll bet Gooden and Strawberry were each on the back page of the New York Post more times than Mattingly was.
   23. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 25, 2022 at 04:32 PM (#6069092)
I think the fact there are so many plausible answers as to who the face of the 80s suggests there was no singular face! Which makes sense, there were no real dynasties, and lots of different champions.
   24. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 25, 2022 at 04:44 PM (#6069094)
Morganna wasn’t quite the face of baseball in the ‘80s, per se, but…
   25. NaOH Posted: March 25, 2022 at 05:50 PM (#6069103)
Far as I'm concerned, let there be loads of documentaries on game personnel when there's lots of video. Better, actually, if it's not Hall members since we hear and see enough about them by virtue of them making the Hall, folks like

Mattingly
Eric Davis
Sax
Nomo
OG Fielder
Willie Wilson
Pam Postema
Vida
Stieb
Kingman
Staub
Mazzone
Oil Can Boyd
manager Davey Johnson, etc., etc., etc.

There are so many and it would be great to revisit them for 30 or 60 minutes. I can ignore the hyperbole from teammates and journalists and enjoy well-produced video about someone who was memorable or worthwhile for a stretch.
   26. Dr Pol is what America needs Posted: March 25, 2022 at 06:15 PM (#6069107)
Face of baseball such a weird concept

But Mike Schmidt won 2 MVPS several years apart. One of the 20 best players ever. Won a World Series. Appeared in another. Seems like the guy

Dale Murphy won back to back MVPs but by later 80’s not the same guy

Will acknowledge Yount but Brewers don’t resonate.

Think it’s Schmidt. Kind of weird obvious really
   27. Jose is an Absurd Sultan Posted: March 25, 2022 at 07:47 PM (#6069115)
As someone who turned 10 in 1980 and 20 in 1990 there were a series of players I was fascinated by;

JR Richard
Fernando!
Nolan Ryan
Pete Rose
Dwight Gooden
Wally Joyner (Roger Clemens here too but as a Sox fan I’m not sure if he resonated though I suspect he did with the 20K game)
Jose Canseco
Orel Hershiser
Then in 1990 Cecil Fielder
   28. Lonnie Smith for president Posted: March 25, 2022 at 08:21 PM (#6069119)
What about 30-60 minutes on the AL MVP voting? It would act as a kind of epilogue to the Mattingly documentary, since his Donnie Baseball-ness is the only way that the voters' decisions makes any kind of sense. Reviewing the entire ballot, wow, all of the AL-flavored 80s are in there. 1985's NL MVP vote is just as representative and also rather bizarre.

I'd watch both of those shows.
   29. The Mighty Quintana Posted: March 25, 2022 at 08:31 PM (#6069122)
The 80's were Rickey's decade. I just call 'em "The Rickeys"...
   30. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 25, 2022 at 09:25 PM (#6069125)
I just call 'em "The Rickeys"...
So does Rickey.
   31. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: March 25, 2022 at 10:00 PM (#6069128)
You could make an argument for Schmidt as the face of the early 80s


He won a MVP in 1986, his 3rd of the decade.
   32. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: March 25, 2022 at 10:05 PM (#6069129)
I'll bet Gooden and Strawberry were each on the back page of the New York Post more times than Mattingly was.


Yeah, the 80s were the Mets' decade, both in NYC and elsewhere, to some extent. Mattingly was just a guy with a mustache.

The 80's were Rickey's decade. I just call 'em "The Rickeys"...


Some low-level evidence of that: the only "bit" that legendary comedian David Cross ever did was the "Rickey Henderson Bit." Rickey transcended cynicsm.
   33. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: March 25, 2022 at 10:15 PM (#6069130)
I understand face of the decade and player of the decade are 2 different things, but Schmidt played every year of the 80's, Mattingly 8. Schmidt won 3 MVPs, Mattingly 1. Schmidt lead the league in triple crown categories 9 times, Mattingly 2. Schmidt was an 8 time All Star, Mattingly 6. Schmidt played in 2 WS and was the MVP in one, Mattingly 0.

I mean, NY is a bigger media market than NYC, but c'mon.
   34. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: March 25, 2022 at 10:58 PM (#6069140)
I mean, NY is a bigger media market than NYC, but c'mon.


Obviously I meant "I mean, NYC is a bigger media market than PHL, but c'mon.
   35. Bruce Chen's Huge Panamanian Robot Posted: March 25, 2022 at 10:59 PM (#6069141)
well, his ex-wife's grim story of alcohol-induced antics is pretty compelling, and that impacted him and his kids.


His oldest son is rotting in jail here in Evansville.
   36. Howie Menckel Posted: March 25, 2022 at 11:16 PM (#6069144)
BBTF has spoken, it seems - not compelling, even if a guy who was a great all-around player for 5 years and was worshiped in his hometown has dealt with multiple family tribulations beginning even as his career nosedived.

nothing to see here, they say.
   37. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 25, 2022 at 11:38 PM (#6069146)
Well, just speaking for myself, I knew nothing about his family life when I asked if there was anything compelling. Seems like there is. I’d watch.
   38. villageidiom Posted: March 25, 2022 at 11:54 PM (#6069147)
BBTF has spoken, it seems - not compelling
I don't know that we've concluded his story is not compelling. The consensus is that he wasn't the face of baseball in the 1980s. Further, it seems the consensus is that it's ludicrous to have considered him the face of baseball in the 1980s.
   39. Tin Angel Posted: March 26, 2022 at 12:00 AM (#6069149)
Yeah, the 80s were the Mets' decade, both in NYC and elsewhere, to some extent. Mattingly was just a guy with a mustache.


I can't wait for the Kevin McReynolds documentary. Hope it's long enough to be in two parts.
   40. DL from MN Posted: March 26, 2022 at 12:21 AM (#6069151)
I'm sure Pete Rose had the most words written about him in the 80s but I think people would rather remember 70's Pete Rose instead of 80's Pete Rose.
   41. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 26, 2022 at 07:30 AM (#6069163)
Further, it seems the consensus is that it's ludicrous to have considered him the face of baseball in the 1980s.
Not really. In 1986, when Mattingly was at his pre-injury peak, a New York Times survey of MLB Players voted Mattingly as the best player in baseball. The vote was somewhat dispersed, suggesting there wasn’t that much of a consensus, but it was a respectable opinion at the time.

The MLB Network is making the documentary because they think it will attract enough viewers to justify the effort. They already have the career highlights, and just need to add some narration & interviews. It’s not going to be a 10-part series. They should do more such programming, not less.
   42. Mefisto Posted: March 26, 2022 at 08:58 AM (#6069167)
Schmidt won 3 MVPs, Mattingly 1.


And Mattingly didn't deserve the award he did win (Rickey did, though Brett and Boggs had good cases too). He really only had 4 good seasons; Schmidt had almost that many MVPs.
   43. DL from MN Posted: March 26, 2022 at 10:16 AM (#6069172)
They should do more such programming, not less.


Agree on this. There are a number of good examples of possible profiles listed here. There are enough clips about Rickey Henderson to fill a 10 part series.
   44. DL from MN Posted: March 26, 2022 at 10:19 AM (#6069174)
I think the Pete Rose story would be better on HBO than on MLB Network.
   45. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 26, 2022 at 10:56 AM (#6069176)
The ‘84 Donruss Mattingly was (and probably still is) the iconic card of the ‘80s, for whatever that’s worth.
   46. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 26, 2022 at 11:22 AM (#6069179)
I'll bet Gooden and Strawberry were each on the back page of the New York Post more times than Mattingly was.

Yeah, but what percentage of those stories were about drug busts?

----------

I think the fact there are so many plausible answers as to who the face of the 80s suggests there was no singular face! Which makes sense, there were no real dynasties, and lots of different champions.

Objectively that's true, but still, I could go for a documentary of all of Whitey Herzog's vein-popping temper tantrums, with a background shot of Vince Coleman getting in a losing battle with a tarp.
   47. chisoxcollector Posted: March 26, 2022 at 11:28 AM (#6069181)
I started following baseball in Southern California in 1986, when I was 8 years old. For me, Don Mattingly probably was the face of baseball. I can't speak to 1980-85, but for 1986-89 the only contenders for me would have been Mattingly, Daryl Strawberry, and Jose Canseco. Dwight Gooden, Mike Schmidt, Dale Murphy, Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire, Ozzie Smith, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Ryne Sandberg, Tony Gwynn, Pete Rose, Roger Clemens, and maybe Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela (I lived in SoCal) would be the in the tier just below those guys. Maybe Tim Raines too. I barely knew who Jack Morris was.

I am not saying Mattingly, Canseco, and Strawberry were the best players. But I am pretty sure I considered them the most famous at the time. I remember pulling the 1986 Topps All-Star Mattingly card from a pack and being very excited.
   48. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: March 26, 2022 at 11:42 AM (#6069183)
I started following baseball in Southern California in 1986, when I was 8 years old. For me, Don Mattingly probably was the face of baseball. I can't speak to 1980-85,


Well that's 60% of the 80's.
   49. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: March 26, 2022 at 11:56 AM (#6069185)
Not really. In 1986, when Mattingly was at his pre-injury peak, a New York Times survey of MLB Players voted Mattingly as the best player in baseball. The vote was somewhat dispersed, suggesting there wasn’t that much of a consensus, but it was a respectable opinion at the time.


I get that, but you can't ignore the first six years of the decade when deciding the "face of the decade". Schmidt was winning multiple MVPs in the decade while Mattingly was in the minors.
   50. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: March 26, 2022 at 12:04 PM (#6069186)
Again, acknowledging that player of the decade and face of the decade are 2 different things, I just want to note that from 1980-89, Mattingly was 26th in WAR, between Jessie Barfield and Willie Wilson.
   51. The Honorable Ardo Posted: March 26, 2022 at 12:10 PM (#6069187)
Adjusting for context (higher K rates, COVID in 2020, etc.), Mattingly's 1984-89 peak years and Freddie Freeman's last six seasons are strikingly similar.
   52. John Northey Posted: March 26, 2022 at 12:22 PM (#6069189)
Geez. How crazy. The guy was a 1B on a team that didn't make the playoffs until his final season and then were knocked out in the first round. He had a great 6 year stretch from 84-89 (3.6 to 7.2 WAR each year) but in the 80's (when I was a kid and deep into baseball) I saw George Brett, Wade Boggs, Tim Raines, Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Schmidt and many others as far, far above Mattingly. Heck, on the Jays outside of 84-86 I'd have rather had Fred McGriff (87 platooned for some drunken reason by Jimy Williams, 88-89 over 6 WAR both years, over 5 in his final year as a Jay in 1990 - Mattingly in those years totaled 12.8 WAR).

His peak was 33 WAR over 6 years, very nice. But his teams never won the division, just once getting over 90 wins (once dead on 90). The Yankees at peak Mattingly saw him 'lead' them to 2 second place finishes, 1 3rd, 1 4th, 2 5th place finishes. These were strong teams with future HOF guys like Rickey Henderson, Dave Winfield on them, plus Willie Randolph (over 60 WAR), Tommy John, Phil Neikro, Ron Guidry, and others who were excellent players. The fact they couldn't make the playoffs with that talent during Mattingly's peak says to me that he wasn't a leader no matter what the NY media wanted us to believe. He was a very good, even an excellent 1B for a few years but that is it. The legend status he got is insane imo.
   53. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: March 26, 2022 at 12:30 PM (#6069193)
Nitpick. Tommy John was traded from the Yankees 8 days before Mattingly's debut.

edit: never mind. He came back in 86.
   54. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 26, 2022 at 01:18 PM (#6069198)
The Yankees at peak Mattingly saw him 'lead' them to 2 second place finishes, 1 3rd, 1 4th, 2 5th place finishes. These were strong teams with future HOF guys like Rickey Henderson, Dave Winfield on them, plus Willie Randolph (over 60 WAR), Tommy John, Phil Neikro, Ron Guidry, and others who were excellent players. The fact they couldn't make the playoffs with that talent during Mattingly's peak says to me that he wasn't a leader no matter what the NY media wanted us to believe. He was a very good, even an excellent 1B for a few years but that is it. The legend status he got is insane imo.

Mattingly wasn't the problem. Between his rookie year (1982) and 1989, the Yankees' ERA+ numbers were 100, 100, 101, 110, 100, 101, 93 and 86. Not easy to win many championships with pitching like that.
   55. Walt Davis Posted: March 26, 2022 at 04:37 PM (#6069219)
Somebody mentioned Kirk Gibson -- that legendary HR was 1988, a bit late for face of the decade purposes. Sort of the 80s problem in a nutshell -- memorable moments but spread across lots of teams, players; lots of stars felled by injuries (esp pitchers).

By the way, I mentioned Morris not to suggest him as a face candidate but as a reminder of how "anonymous" the 80s were that somebody as mediocre as Morris could be "pitcher of the 80s." And of course "face" isn't quality necessarily -- Murray was pretty boring, Shmidt's mustache was his public persona -- of course that was true for Mattingly as well. If Brett or Yount spent their careers with the Yanks (or Mets but nobody spends their career with the Mets) then maybe they'd have been as famous as Jeter.

Ozzie and Rickey are probably the best non-Mattingly candidates put forward although Rickey has the problem that, in those days, most of us saw his exploits only on TWiB.

But Mattingly makes a good choice since he kinda does represent that decade -- he had some really good seasons but couldn't keep it up for the decade. His teams couldn't win but neither could anybody else's. The media wanted another All-American Steve Garvey and landed on Donnie Baseball.

It might have also been the decade when baseball's slide from "pastime" status began. Looking at IMDB -- Rickey is credited with one Letterman appearance in 1984 (then again in 2009) and he shows up in Hammer's 2 Legit 2 Quit video in 1991. Ozzie doesn't have a non-baseball TV appearance until Leno in 1996. Mattingly lands on Letterman in 1987 and an "Live with Kelly and Ryan" in 1991. Schmidt pops up on Mike Douglas in 1977 then twice on Letterman in the mid-80s. (I think all but Schmidt were on the Simpsons in 92.) None of these guys had national celebrity status.

Garvey meanwhile shows up in a regular TV series in 1975 and on Fantasy Island in 1978. He was on all the talk shows and a few regular TV shows throughout the 80s, was on numerous "celebrity" specials. He has 17 TV credits through the 90s (Baywatch!), about 10 in the 00s and apparently still pops up on deep cable in non-baseball stuff (RV with Me?). Looks like Garvey was the face of baseball in the 80s and maybe still 90s. (Yes obviously being in LA where most TV was still shot in those days helped but that's part of the point.)
   56. Bowling Baseball Fan plays stupid games... Posted: March 26, 2022 at 04:43 PM (#6069223)
If we are talking face, it has to be Willie McGee, right?
   57. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: March 26, 2022 at 04:57 PM (#6069224)
Looks like Garvey was the face of baseball in the 80s and maybe still 90s.


Maybe the 80s, but I don't know about the 90s. That would have been either Maddux/Smoltz/Glavine as a trio, or the late-90s Yankees.

I mean, probably it was (sigh) Jeter. He was all over late night, hosted SNL, guest starred as himself in movies and TV shows, turned up on reality shows. It galled me at the time, because there were so many players who were better and he wasn't even a personality like Henderson or somebody. But he was the Face of Baseball for a good ten years there, from the late 90s through about 2009.
   58. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: March 26, 2022 at 05:04 PM (#6069226)
And, if we're going by TV stuff, I think you have to give Keith Hernandez a shout-out for the 80s. He was on Cavett a couple of times, he famously guested on Seinfeld (though I guess that was shortly after he retired), he was almost a regular on Sesame Street when the Mets were at their peak. He was even on Charlie Rose.
   59. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 26, 2022 at 05:15 PM (#6069228)
I know who was the Face of baseball in the ‘60s…
   60. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: March 26, 2022 at 05:24 PM (#6069230)
Yeah, but #### him.
   61. An Athletic in Powderhorn, Silly Posted: March 26, 2022 at 05:36 PM (#6069231)
Who is the face of 80s baseball, if not Don Mattingly? Because I know it wasn't Don Mattingly.
There doesn't have to be a face of baseball for every decade. I'm partial to Rickey!, of course. But no one guy sums up the decade. (This is true of most decades, IMO.)
   62. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: March 26, 2022 at 05:59 PM (#6069232)
(This is true of most decades, IMO.)


I think you're better off trying to pick two or three guys. Mays and Mantle are a pretty good Face of Baseball for the 50s. Koufax and Gibson can kind of be a synecdoche for the 60s. I think the 80s are extra hard because it was a time of (a) great parity and (b) very few records being set.

That said, I still think it's Ozzie Smith.
   63. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: March 26, 2022 at 06:00 PM (#6069233)
If we are talking face, it has to be Willie McGee, right?


Sorry. Penitentiary face is taken.
   64. SoSH U at work Posted: March 26, 2022 at 09:14 PM (#6069244)
Ozzie and Rickey are probably the best non-Mattingly candidates put forward although Rickey has the problem that, in those days, most of us saw his exploits only on TWiB.


In that case, maybe Johnny Bench was the Face of the decade, due to his stellar hosting stint on the Baseball Bunch (as well as his understated work as a Krylon pitchman).

By the way, how likely is it Mattingly's multiple family tribulations feature prominently in an MLB Network doc?
   65. bartap74 Posted: March 26, 2022 at 11:00 PM (#6069249)
Surprised that Winfield didn't get more love as a candidate for player of the 80s, as he was briefly the highest player in the game and put up consistently good numbers throughout the decade while doing charity work, being the target of a Steinbrenner scandal, and generally being a charming guy.

Also surprised he's not featured in the documentary given that he and Mattingly went down to the final game of the season in the 1984 batting race as teammates.
   66. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: March 26, 2022 at 11:12 PM (#6069250)
as he was briefly the highest player in the game


I know this is a typo, but I do believe that the highest player in the game was Darryl Strawberry.
   67. Howie Menckel Posted: March 27, 2022 at 12:01 AM (#6069255)
Also surprised he's not featured in the documentary given that he and Mattingly went down to the final game of the season in the 1984 batting race as teammates.

I was at Fenway Park for the final four games of the 1986 batting title battle between Mattingly and Boggs.

that in itself is worth a snippet in a Mattingly bio.

Boggs, with a comfy lead, sits out the series for - some sort of injury claim. buzz at Fenway was that he was full of crap.

Mattingly got booed, of course, in the first game. but after he got a few hits, and it seems he just might be able to pull off miracle, he started getting some very modest applause from some of the Red Sox faithful who were purists about such things (almost impossible to explain to younger fans what a huge deal the batting title was in those days).

at least Mattingly - unlike Boggs - would die with his boots on, and all that.

(that whole series was weird. I have noted before that the Yankees clinched the division before the series even started. yet late in the Sunday game - echoing the 1980 Phillies first WS title - cops on horseback starting lining the edges on the field. wtf. who was going to storm onto the field - Red Sox or Yankees fans - for a meaningless finale? one hijink that I have detailed before did ensue, thankfully.)
   68. SoSH U at work Posted: March 27, 2022 at 12:18 AM (#6069257)
The Red Sox won the division that year, Howie.
   69. Jack Sommers Posted: March 27, 2022 at 12:26 AM (#6069258)
84 to 89, so Cherry Picking his peak, 6 position players and 1 pitcher ranked higher than Mattingly in a stat that didn't exist when he was playing. It's not THAT big a stretch for him to have been perceived that way, which he was at the time, rightly or wrongly.


Rk              Player  WAR OPS+   PA
1           Wade Boggs 48.5  152 4305
2     Rickey Henderson 42.0  138 3713
3       Cal Ripken Jr
37.9  122 4259
4          Ozzie Smith 37.3  100 3747
5        Alan Trammell 34.0  122 3654
6           Tim Raines 33.6  140 3780
7        Don Mattingly 33.0  147 4105
8           Tony Gwynn 32.7  136 3984
9        Ryne Sandberg 31.0  121 3993
10      Jesse Barfield 29.2  123 3432
11       Kirby Puckett 28.8  122 4093
12   Darryl Strawberry 27.7  147 3455 


Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 3/26/2022.


Best Pitchers from that time period

Rk            Player  WAR ERA+     IP
1      Roger Clemens 35.5  139 1284.2
2     Orel Hershiser 32.9  132 1457.0
3    Bret Saberhagen 32.0  128 1329.0
4      Bert Blyleven 31.2  115 1682.0
5         Dave Stieb 31.1  126 1614.0
6      Dwight Gooden 30.6  132 1291.0
7      Teddy Higuera 28.9  129 1085.0
8        Bruce Hurst 28.1  111 1533.0
9          Bob Welch 27.9  117 1491.2
10       Frank Viola 27.9  113 1732.0
11     Charlie Hough 26.3  116 1718.0
12      Mark Gubicza 26.2  118 1313.1
13        John Tudor 25.1  127 1256.0 


Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 3/26/2022.




   70. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 27, 2022 at 03:18 AM (#6069264)
Early 1980's George Brett was the man. The chase for .400, the pine tar thing, the awesome game 7 against the Cards in the series and most importantly he's credited with coining the phrase "the Mendoza line".

From mid 80's, you've got to go with Rickey! right?

I was based on the west coast so obviously that's influenced who would seem like "the player of the 80's" for teenage me.
   71. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 27, 2022 at 07:54 AM (#6069267)
The Red Sox won the division that year, Howie.

And it wasn't even that close. The Red Sox were 9.5 games ahead of the pack on September 17th, and on October 1st they were still 9.5 games ahead.
   72. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: March 27, 2022 at 08:57 AM (#6069268)
Far as I'm concerned, let there be loads of documentaries on game personnel when there's lots of video. Better, actually, if it's not Hall members since we hear and see enough about them by virtue of them making the Hall, folks like
Mattingly
Eric Davis
Sax
Nomo
OG Fielder
Willie Wilson


One of the things that makes this difficult, judging from the amount of game footage available on YouTube, is that there is very little of it available, and much of that is low quality VHS/Beta tapes made by folks when that technology was still available. TV networks were throwing all that stuff away. Does anyone know when they stopped? Or if they stopped? For most of the players/events of the 1970's and 1980's it probably would be difficult to make a documentary as there just wouldn't be enough tape. Mattingly being in the malestrom of the New York media market is different, same was true of "The Bronx is Burning".

MLB has never had anything like NFL Films, maybe MLB Network does this now, but even that I am not sure. Oftentimes, MLB has been hamstrung by it's non-centralized nature. Heck, even Cooperstown is a separate entity from MLB, so things like the steroid business vis-a-vis the Hall of Fame come up year after year, creating controversy that does nothing to serve the further interest of baseball, and yet MLB (I think, correct me if I'm wrong) really cannot tell Cooperstown what to do about it (even if they knew), so the open wound lingers.
   73. Mefisto Posted: March 27, 2022 at 09:00 AM (#6069269)
@69: It's not just that half a dozen players were better than Mattingly, it's that at least two of them were a LOT better (half again better in the case of Boggs). That's what happened in Mattingly's MVP year too: he had 6.3 WAR and Rickey was at 9.9 (Boggs and Brett were also over 9).
   74. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 27, 2022 at 11:48 AM (#6069281)
@69: It's not just that half a dozen players were better than Mattingly, it's that at least two of them were a LOT better (half again better in the case of Boggs). That's what happened in Mattingly's MVP year too: he had 6.3 WAR and Rickey was at 9.9 (Boggs and Brett were also over 9).

Well, every president has been better than Trump, but that doesn't mean that to much of the world Trump doesn't represent the true face of America.

The point is that objective measurements have only so much to do with things like this.
   75. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: March 27, 2022 at 12:02 PM (#6069283)
There are obvious (big) differences, chief among them that Mattingly was a career Yankee, but it seems to me that Mattingly for Yankee fans has some important similarities with Nomar for Red Sox fans:

--Early years that made them look like legit alltime greats in the making

--Injury putting a big dent in their value

--Gone *just* before a period of massive success for their team
   76. nick swisher hygiene Posted: March 27, 2022 at 03:53 PM (#6069298)
As a Yankee fan who lived through that decade, I can only conclude that Howie meant to type “Red Sox had clinched the division” in 67.

But the “noted before” does make the mistake especially weird!
   77. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 27, 2022 at 05:07 PM (#6069320)
There are obvious (big) differences, chief among them that Mattingly was a career Yankee, but it seems to me that Mattingly for Yankee fans has some important similarities with Nomar for Red Sox fans:

--Early years that made them look like legit alltime greats in the making

--Injury putting a big dent in their value

--Gone *just* before a period of massive success for their team


That's actually a pretty good comparison. They both haad 14 year careers and roughly 7 year peaks, during which Mattingly had a slightly better OPS+ (144 to 135), while Nomar had a higher average WAR (5.9 to 4.8). Mattingly played with injuries after 1987, while injuries Nomar to miss most of the 2001 season
   78. Howie Menckel Posted: March 27, 2022 at 09:01 PM (#6069363)
the Red Sox won the division that year, Howie.

that's my best - not a brain fart, nor a typo. not sure what it's called.

I mean, I was not only at that series in '86, I also was at Game 7 of the World Series that year at Shea Stadium.
at no point in my life have I ever been confused about who won the Al pennant back then, lol. I saw the end of the Red Sox regular season and postseason in person !
and yet, having clearly not proofread my comment, I indeed typed the Yankees having won.

perhaps I picked a bad week to resume sniffing glue....
   79. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: March 28, 2022 at 03:15 AM (#6069379)
The ‘84 Donruss Mattingly was (and probably still is) the iconic card of the ‘80s, for whatever that’s worth.

Nope. Gotta go with Rickey's RC in 1980 Topps.
   80. Lassus Posted: March 28, 2022 at 08:06 AM (#6069382)
BBTF has spoken, it seems - not compelling, even if a guy who was a great all-around player for 5 years and was worshiped in his hometown has dealt with multiple family tribulations beginning even as his career nosedived.

nothing to see here, they say.

I hope you have oxygen up there at that great height.
   81. Lassus Posted: March 28, 2022 at 08:08 AM (#6069383)
The ‘84 Donruss Mattingly was (and probably still is) the iconic card of the ‘80s, for whatever that’s worth.
Nope. Gotta go with Rickey's RC in 1980 Topps.

For me, tiresomely, this opens up a whole other debate about decades. I mean, the 1980s were really still part of the seventies, as far as I see it.
   82. Ithaca2323 Posted: March 28, 2022 at 09:20 AM (#6069387)
Mattingly's an interesting subject for a documentary, to me, because he's just sort of a relic of the 80s. When you were a superstar because you had 200 hits, and 100 RBIs, and played the game the "right way".

There were plenty of iconic players in the 1980s: Ripken was already getting a lot of attention for his consecutive games streak, Henderson for his record breaking base-running.

Those guys, along with Boggs, Schmidt...they're looked upon as underrated, if anything, decades later. Ripken has lost a little sheen, I think, as I've seen a few people question if his streak really was detrimental to his play in the long run.

But by and large, their greatness is more recognized today.

Mattingly's peak has really been taken down by modern stats. Not only was he not the best player in baseball during the years of his peak, he might not have even been the best *hitter* in the American League East.

I think there's a pretty decent segment of baseball fans who, even if they aren't Yankees fans, really just gravitate to the idea of Mattingly's perceived greatness in the 1980s
   83. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 28, 2022 at 10:15 AM (#6069394)
Nope. Gotta go with Rickey's RC in 1980 Topps.
Yeah, I considered that one of course. It's certainly the better card, and I think you'd have a good argument that today it's the most iconic. But back when cards really took off in the '80s, I think it was the Mattingly, followed by the 86D Canseco. And also Lassus's point.
   84. Karl from NY Posted: March 28, 2022 at 02:47 PM (#6069445)
Rickey would have been the face of the 80's if he had always been with the Yankees, instead of spending the majority of the decade on west coast time for a team that was irrelevant until McGwire and Canseco overshadowed him.

Although for me, the iconic base-stealer of the 80's was Vince Coleman. I was just a hair too young to have seen and appreciated Rickey's peak. Obviously slanted by the Mets playing the Cardinals seemingly all the time, while Rickey was in the other league.

As for Mattingly, what I remember is that his legend mostly grew from setting the single-season grand slam record, which was an oddly big thing in the papers at the time. Before that he was good but had no particular air of specialness.
   85. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 28, 2022 at 04:29 PM (#6069455)
Rickey would have been the face of the 80's if he had always been with the Yankees, instead of spending the majority of the decade on west coast time for a team that was irrelevant until McGwire and Canseco overshadowed him.


The BillyBall A's were one of the biggest stories in baseball in 1980-81.
   86. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: March 28, 2022 at 04:45 PM (#6069463)
The BillyBall A's were one of the biggest stories in baseball in 1980-81.


Yeah, but they didn't win anything.

The Yankees weren't the dominant media force in the 80s that they became in the next decade, I don't think. Rickey might have gotten more publicity playing for the Cardinals or Dodgers -- or really, the Mets, since they were better than the Yankees and also in New York.
   87. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: March 28, 2022 at 04:48 PM (#6069464)
Yeah, but they didn't win anything.


Neither did the Yankees during Mattingly's tenure.Rickey at least won a WS, and a MVP, in 1989.
   88. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: March 28, 2022 at 05:25 PM (#6069469)
But back when cards really took off in the '80s, I think it was the Mattingly, followed by the 86D Canseco. And also Lassus's point.

Good point. It retrospect, it's Rickey, but at the time 84D Mattingly and 86D Canseco were huge, as were the 84 Fleer Updates of Gooden, Puckett, and Clemens as well as the 82 Topps Traded Ripken, but those were the Traded sets that didn't have as much circulation.
   89. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: March 28, 2022 at 05:45 PM (#6069472)
Neither did the Yankees during Mattingly's tenure.Rickey at least won a WS, and a MVP, in 1989.


To paraphrase Ketanji Brown-Jackson, if you would read the next two sentences you would see that that was part of my point.
   90. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 29, 2022 at 12:00 AM (#6069500)
1) Don Mattingly was obviously a heck of a player for a certain window of time, but was only "Don Mattingly!" for four years (1984-1987). Will Clark was a more valuable player over the course of his career (he could hit even in his final season), and you could definitely argue Clark's peak was better than Mattingly's peak. Clark also had about the nicest swing of any player of my lifetime, was better looking, had attitude, etc. He just didn't play in NYC.

2) Speaking of which, I think the "legend" of Don Mattingly is basically that he was the guy in New York during the era after the 76-81 Reggie/Guidry/Munson/Nettles/Gossage/Randolph/etc years, and before the 1996-2003 Dynasty. The only other period in the history of the Yankees like the 1982-1995 window was the 1965-1975 Yankees, who were generally quite forgettable, and probably were, what, the "Bobby Murcer/Roy White" years? Perhaps 1982-1995 should have been the Dave Winfield Era - Winfield is the Hall of Famer, after all - but for several reasons (being a Yankee farmhand and career Yankee, perhaps because he was white, perhaps because RBIs and the batting title were so important to fans at that time), the fans decided this was Mattingly's Yankees. They didn't make the playoffs, and frequently weren't relevent, so the fans and media had to make somebody from this era the "successor" to Ruth/Gehrig, followed by Dickey, to Dimaggio, to Berra, to Mantle/Ford. It's sort of the same reason the team is retiring friggin' Paul O'Neill's number, because they want to believe there were legends of that level during the latest dynasty. There was Rivera and Jeter, but that's not good enough, so they put in Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, and others. Mattingly was the 1982-1995 era guy to play this role.
   91. gehrig97 Posted: March 29, 2022 at 01:45 PM (#6069538)
Couple of things at play here. Those of us of a certain age remember when baseball was actually relevant. Mattingly was one of the biggest stars in the game, when the game itself occupied a much larger space in the cultural firmament. All-Star players were honest-to-goodness celebrities in the 80s, and Mattingly was considered the best player in baseball for three or four seasons running (I know this stretches credulity in hindsight, but it was very much the case from 1985-1987).

Now, the "face of baseball" comment is obviously delivered through the prism of a New York sportswriter who covered the Yankees during those years--but it's hard to overstate how popular Mattingly was in NY. He was easily the most popular athlete in NYC from the mid-80s through retirement, and NY beat writers shaped the national baseball narrative to a much greater degree in those days. Mattingly routinely won those "Most Popular Player" polls run by the baseball annuals. "Face of baseball?" Eh. Who knows (or cares)? But if such a thing existed, he was certainly in the conversation for the honor.

So what's the over/under on how many times they show the "steal popcorn from a fan" clip?
   92. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: March 29, 2022 at 05:55 PM (#6069567)
As noted by many, he was the "face of NY baseball" for some number of years running. Winfield was, in some sense, also in the mix, but Winfield had a pretty significant career in the 1980's as a Padre, and as played a pretty big part in the 1981 World Series, might even have been looked at as a holdover from the previous era, as well as being the unfortunate target of George Steinbrenner.

As I said earlier, one thing that is probably going on here, is that there is a lot of tape, comparably, for Mattingly versus many of the other stars of his era - there just isn't that much of it around I think.

So I say to MLB Network - go ahead, see how well this works, and if it does, well make it a series and lets look into the careers of, who should be next? Bobby Bonds? Dick Allen? George Brett? Rickey? Boggs? Frank Pastore? (Assuming they can find enough tape)
   93. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 30, 2022 at 01:39 PM (#6069659)

Mattingly was huge when I was growing up in NY in the 80s.

And the 80s seem particularly afflicted with great players who didn't last the whole decade or who got their start in the middle of the decade. I really became a baseball fan in the late 80s, so Kirby Puckett and Bo Jackson were a couple of guys who I was surprised not to see mentioned in this thread (other than the table in 69). They were huge in the late 80s, even if they were a bit overrated as players.


Maybe the 80s, but I don't know about the 90s. That would have been either Maddux/Smoltz/Glavine as a trio, or the late-90s Yankees.

I mean, probably it was (sigh) Jeter. He was all over late night, hosted SNL, guest starred as himself in movies and TV shows, turned up on reality shows. It galled me at the time, because there were so many players who were better and he wasn't even a personality like Henderson or somebody. But he was the Face of Baseball for a good ten years there, from the late 90s through about 2009.


If I had to pick someone for the 1990s, it would be Ken Griffey, Jr.
   94. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: March 31, 2022 at 09:37 AM (#6069758)
If I had to pick someone for the 1990s, it would be Ken Griffey, Jr.


Most decades have someone pretty obvious:

1900s - Wagner
1910s - Cobb
1920s - Ruth
1930s - Gehrig
1940s - DiMaggio
1950s - Mantle
1960s - Mays
1970s - Reggie
1990s - Griffey
2000s - Bonds
2010s - Trout

I could see some quibbling around the edges, but those guys are far more obvious choices than anyone for the 80s.
   95. Rally Posted: March 31, 2022 at 10:08 AM (#6069760)
To me, it’s gotta be Rickey. One of the biggest differences in baseball today vs the baseball I watched as a kid is the stolen base. Rickey was and remains the king of that aspect of baseball.
   96. chisoxcollector Posted: March 31, 2022 at 10:57 AM (#6069765)
Three very iconic 80s baseball cards deserve a mention.

1985 Topps Mark McGwire
1989 Fleer Billy Ripken
1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr.
   97. chisoxcollector Posted: March 31, 2022 at 10:58 AM (#6069766)
It’s odd that none of the Barry Bonds or Greg Maddux rookies are especially iconic.
   98. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 31, 2022 at 11:50 AM (#6069776)
In terms of the baseball cards of the 1980s thing, the 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly was, IIRC, the iconic card at the peak of the 1980s collecting craze. It was the intersection of several dynamics coming to a head at once:

- Baseball card collecting mania
- The relatively low-print run of 1984 Donruss
- The beginning of Mattingly's four-year peak (1984-1987)
- Mattingly being a New York Yankee
- By 1984, Topps had already begun to be seen as the "bulk printing" card company, so although there was a 1984 Topps Mattingly, it was pretty easy to get.

In other words, there was a lag time between when it was really easy to get these cards, and when the market began to discount their value accordingly. 1984 Mattingly was probably the peak person, at the peak moment in his career, at the peak moment of collectors craze.

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