Bleacher Creatures show Don Mattingly love
It happened twice, each time in the bottom of the first inning in a day-night doubleheader. Mattingly responded to each call with a simple yet dramatic tip of the cap. Not from the baseball diamond, but from the dugout where Mattingly now makes his living as the Dodgers manager.
Former Yankees players like Johnny Damon, Alfonso Soriano and Nick Swisher have received roll calls while in the field for other teams. Don Mattingly's interaction with the fans in right field on Wednesday was unique, though, in two ways: He is the only manager to ever receive the honor, and he is also the only opponent ever to receive the honor twice.
"It was fun," Mattingly said after Game 2. "I like the roll call. They never had it when I played but it was fun to watch when I was coaching. I always thought it was kind of cool."
Although Dodgers' sensation Yasiel Puig garnered some of the spotlight on Wednesday, Yankees fans would say that it really belonged to his manager. After playing 14 years with the Yankees, Mattingly spent another three years working as the hitting coach before he took the managerial job out in Los Angeles. Unlike many Yankee greats though, Mattingly was at his best in the Yankees' down years, which may be why he is adored by the fans as much as he is.
"It was great because I know how much Donnie meant to New York," said former Yankee and current Dodger Jerry Hairston Jr. "They appreciate the players that they have and the Yankee history. So it was cool to see them give Donnie some respect."
As all baseball fans know, managing isn't easy. The star-studded Dodgers are struggling this season, sitting at a disappointing nine games under .500. So as manager, Mattingly's success has yet to be determined. But as a player, his success is simply undeniable.
Still, it's always been impossible not to play the "what if" game with Mattingly, who probably would have had a longer and more statistically successful career if it weren't for his barking back. But while Mattingly may not have a World Series ring or a plaque in Cooperstown, he will always have the unwavering love of Yankee fans. Just ask the Bleacher Creatures.