Ask a Yankee fan who their favorite player in pinstripes has been over the past 30 years.
You will get lots of Jeters. And Riveras. But you will also hear another name, a blast from the past.
Donald Arthur Mattingly.
It has been 27 years since Donnie Baseball wore pinstripes as a player, but he is revered by Yankee fans across the nation. As the current Marlins skipper prepares for the 2022 season, MLB Network looks back at the prolific career of “The Hit Man” in Donnie Baseball, the latest installment of the MLB Network Presents documentary series, premiering Sunday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m ET.
From his native Evansville, Ind., Mattingly speaks candidly about his baseball life. Considered by many as Major League Baseball’s best offensive player of the 1980s, Mattingly is the only Yankee to have his number retired that did not win a World Series. He reflects on what might have been, had his cranky back held up.
“Am I disappointed in my own career? Yeah, parts of it, I am," Mattingly says in the film. "Parts of it, I’m very proud of. Parts of it, I’m not because I don’t feel like I was good enough as I should have been. I should have learned quicker to not beat my body up, and if I did less, I could perform better.”
Donnie Baseball details Mattingly’s transformation from what Buck Showalter described as a “gangly, kind of long necked [player] that kept the bat in the zone a long time,” to a baseball superstar who captured the AL batting title and AL MVP Award by his fourth season.
Mattingly’s relationship with the late George M. Steinbrenner III is explored, from Steinbrenner threatening to trade him in the spring of 1989 – over the length of Mattingly’s hair - to naming him team captain in 1991. One of Mattingly’s greatest moments in pinstripes came in his final season (1995), when he appeared in the postseason for the first and only time as a player. Mattingly launched a home run in Game 2 of the ALDS against Seattle that inspired Gary Thorne’s iconic call: “Oh, hang onto the ROOF!”
The film features new interviews with Showalter, Hall of Famers George Brett and Wade Boggs, and Yankee legends Bernie Williams and Ron Guidry.