Billy Martin: Baseball's Flawed Genius
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“Enormously entertaining . . . Explores the question of whether a baseball lifer can actually be a tragic figure in the classic sense—a man destroyed by the very qualities that made him great." — Wall Street Journal
“Bill Pennington gives long-overdue flesh to the caricature . . . Pennington savors the dirt-kicking spectacles without losing sight of the man.” — New York Times Book Review
Even now, years after his death, Billy Martin remains one of the most intriguing and charismatic figures in baseball history. And the most misunderstood. A manager who is widely considered to have been a baseball genius, Martin is remembered more for his rabble-rousing and public brawls on the field and off. He was combative and intimidating, yet endearing and beloved.
In Billy Martin, Bill Pennington resolves these contradictions and pens the definitive story of Martin’s life. From his hardscrabble youth to his days on the Yankees in the 1950s and through sixteen years of managing, Martin made sure no one ever ignored him. Drawing on exhaustive interviews and his own time covering Martin as a young sportswriter, Pennington provides an intimate, revelatory, and endlessly colorful story of a truly larger-than-life sportsman.
“The hair on my forearms was standing up by the end of the fifth paragraph of this book’s introduction. I knew Billy Martin. I covered Billy Martin. But I never knew him like this.” — Dan Shaughnessy, best-selling author of Francona
“An exhaustive, detailed and fascinating look at a baseball genius whose biggest fight might very well have been against himself.” — Tampa Tribune
of the bar who recognized him and started making fun of his hat,” Figone said. “Billy apparently didn’t say anything and these other guys kept drinking and getting more bold. Pretty soon they’re challenging Billy to go outside and fight. It was the usual stuff: ‘I’m no marshmallow salesman, Billy; why don’t you try beating me up.’ “Billy just kept smiling at them. When I walked in, he stood up and announced to the three guys, ‘OK, now we can go fight.’ And he said to me, ‘Let’s go, these guys
were about to throw away much of their outsize promise because of alcohol and illicit drug use. Most of the Mets in the mid-1980s drank heavily and caroused late into the night. From Keith Hernandez to David Cone, the Mets were proud of their wild ways and did nothing to disguise it. This attitude cost many their careers. For others, it ruined marriages and family life. For a few, a lifestyle cultivated in the white-hot spotlight of baseball stardom—cocaine was a burgeoning problem in the game
as an assistant to the principal owner. His role was not defined. There was no real effort made to explain why Billy was relieved of his duties. The details did not seem highly important at the time. In New York, Billy being dismissed as Yankees manager was starting to be accepted as a formality. The newspapers were now labeling Billy’s managerial terms with the Yankees with roman numerals, and so this was just another chapter. Billy IV had ended. The page turned. “I think we were all
what it looked like that night,” Lynch said. “But I took extra pictures because that was the stuff that Billy wanted to remember about his life. “I figured if that’s what he wanted to remember then maybe it was a good way for me to remember him.” There were pictures of Billy and Casey Stengel in the Yankees’ dugout and a photograph of the 1953 world champion Yankees alongside a photo of the World Series–winning 1977 Yankees. There was a shot of Billy sitting with his mother in her kitchen at
Schuster, 1984. Daley, Arthur. Sports of the Times: The Arthur Daley Years. New York: Quadrangle/New York Times Books, 1975. DeMarco, Michael. Dugout Days: Untold Tales and Leadership Lessons From the Extraordinary Career of Billy Martin. New York: AMACOM, 2001. Duren, Ryne, and Tom Sabellico. I Can See Clearly Now: Ryne Duren Talks from the Heart About Life, Baseball, and Alcohol. Chula Vista, CA: Aventine Press, 2003. Falkner, David. The Last Yankee: The Turbulent Life of Billy Martin. New