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Was Billy Martin a Hall of Fame Manager?

Dec 26, 2009, 11:30 AM EDT

Not a lot of news today, so why not some links?  Here’s one from MLB.com remembering Billy Martin in all of his complicated glory twenty years after his death.

Maybe it’s because he was in his managing heyday when I was introduced to baseball as a kid in the late 70s, but I always thought of Martin as a superstar. He was the Yankees’ manager and the Yankees were the best team in baseball, and that’s all there was to it.  Sure, I eventually learned that it was more complicated than that — he was an outrageously polarizing alcoholic sonofabitch who, while possessing a knack for making teams better by his presence alone, blew up clubhouses and pitchers’ arms in equal measure– but I was shocked when Martin only got three of the necessary twelve votes from the Veterans’ Committee.  If Billy Martin isn’t a Hall of Fame manager, who is?

Since he’s no longer alive, I can’t figure that the vote was some sort of punishment for his personal behavior. What would be the point? I just think that people didn’t think of Martin as as good a manager as I did. And still do. Heck, he even turned the mid-70s Rangers into a winning team the year after they lost 105 games.

Martin may have been an awful person in many respects, but the Hall of Fame is filled with awful people. He’d get my vote if I had one.  How about you? Is he worthy?

  1. ditmars1929 - Dec 26, 2009 at 11:41 AM

    Craig, if outrageously polarizing alcoholic sons of bitches weren’t allowed into the Hall of Fame, the Hall would have about half the members than is does now.
    But, yes, I’d vote him in.

  2. Dif - Dec 26, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    IN. I like the crazies.

  3. YankeesfanLen - Dec 26, 2009 at 12:17 PM

    There is absolutely no doubt that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. He fit in perfectly during the 50s through the 70s, his behavior would not be viewed as so outrageous as it is in the politically correct era that we have now found ourselves in.
    Please, though, save me “It was a different time” dogma, Billy as a player and manager knew his focus was winning, and those that differed were (barely) entitled to their opinions. I’d rather have him than a 900 page playbook that has to be constasntly referred to before another batter comes up.

  4. The Common Man - Dec 26, 2009 at 1:00 PM

    Len, you’re an idiot. But that’s neither here nor there.
    Let me throw this out there: Martin’s personal and professional failings should be part of the discussion when we consider his Hall of Fame candidacy. Martin has a terrific .553 winning percentage as a manager, a mark that’s especially impressive given that the teams he was handed were not as talented as, say, the teams Joe McCarthy ran. He always made his clubs better while he was their manager.
    That said, his personality and conflicts with management a) kept him from winning championships (he only won one) and b) allowed him to move on before his pitchers started breaking down. In essence, his winning percentage is so impressive because he never had to deal with the inevitable collapse of his teams. That should matter in the final analysis. As much as I like Martin’s performance and appreciate his uniqueness, the baggage he brought did have an effect on his teams, even after he was gone. And I think that effect and the lack of championships drops him just below the threshold for induction.

  5. TF in Tampa - Dec 26, 2009 at 2:23 PM

    During those years managing in NY, his biggest achievement or dilemma was managing his relationships with George’The Boss’, his star Reggie and all the rest of his ego ladened players. I believe that it was this era, especially on the Yankees, that long and high priced contracts were started which just turned many players into Prima Donas and problems for managers. Billy had talent to manage, had he been left to direct his team his way and not having his owner always in his face. Could he have been more successful, we’ll never know.
    In or Out??? He’s worthy!

  6. DV - Dec 26, 2009 at 5:43 PM

    Definately in, dont forget he managed the Twin and Tigers into playoffs before he got to NY

  7. TF in Tampa - Dec 26, 2009 at 6:18 PM

    Thanks for the info about Billy’s whereabouts before NY. I’m a little older now and can’t remember everything due to the the fog I was in coming out of the 60’s and early 70’s.
    I’m not knowledgeable when it comes to stats, so any other info on Billy and his teams, I would to hear about, from anyone, thanks.

  8. Simon DelMonte - Dec 26, 2009 at 8:20 PM

    Ah, the glory days of my youth, of the first soap opera I ever saw played out in the New York Post.
    My gut tells me that he comes up just short of being in the same league as the greatest managers. He had a tendency to win and then fade, and he had just the one ring to his name (though maybe he deserves credit for the ’78 champions). Martin lacked the staying power of the managers I think define the job, and while a lot of that was personality, I think it was also just some small glitch that left him a bit short of the Weavers and Torres and Coxes of the game.

  9. Ron - Dec 26, 2009 at 8:52 PM

    In, and I most defintely hate the Yankes, especilly the teams of the 70’s, that beat my Royals in the playoffs 3 years in a row.
    He was the best manager of his time, becaause he did what he was supposed to do. Win. Back it when it was still okay for winning to be the purpose of playing the game.
    One memory of Martin that I have is the ’77 playoffs. Brett slid into 3rd on a triple (hard, because, that was the Royals used to play) and Nettles didn’t like it. So Nettles kicked Brett, both benches emptied, and the Marquis of Queensbury’s Rules applied.
    Martin, at 5’7″, grabbed Freddie Patek, all 5’4″ of him, put his arm around his shoulder and waked him away from the fight. Later, Martin explained that they were both too small to be fighing with all the big guys. Small things, but small things make the difference.
    Also, Billy provided the greatest quote of all time.

  10. jim vankoski - Dec 26, 2009 at 9:01 PM

    The question is. If Billy Martin is not a Hall of Fame manager then who is? The answer DANNY MURTAUGH

  11. Old Gator - Dec 26, 2009 at 9:48 PM

    I’d make Battlin’ Billy a Hall of Famer, but only if he were inducted at the same time as George Steinbrenner – the way Henry Kissinger and Le Du Tho were named joint Nobel Peace Prize winners.

  12. Rowan campbell - Mar 15, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    I think Billy Martin should be elected to the hall of fame as a manager.
    He won 5 division titles, 2 penants and a world series title.
    He lead lead 4 different teams to the post season the Twins, Tigers, Yankees and A’s.
    He had a life time managerial record of 1253 wins and 1013 and a awsome winning pct of 553 from 1969-1988.
    He knew what it took to win he had superb baseball intelligence.
    He was the mangerial mentor of Lou Piniella.

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