Sunday, February 21, 2021

Don Mattingly, A True Class Act!

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

I’ve always admired Don Mattingly as a player when he played his entire 14-year career for the New York Yankees from 1982-1995. He was the team captain from 1991-95.

I’ve always thought that a lifetime .307 hitter, with 2153 hits, 222 HR’s and 1099 RBI and a six-time All-Star, nine-time Gold Glove Award Winner, who won the American League Batting Title in 1984, should at least get consideration. 

There are other players with comparable numbers that have been enshrined in Cooperstown, NY.

Thankfully, the New York Yankees have retired his No.23 number and have honored Mattingly in Monument Park.

I was always such an admirer of Mattingly’s that I spent $350.00 for a Hydrostone Statue that sits in my office. 

I once told this to Mattingly when I attended a game a few years ago at Marlins Park. He quipped, “I hope that I can do well as a manager so that it increases in value.” 

Time will tell if that ever happens.

But how can I not like Don Mattingly?

The guy is from the Midwest. 

He hails from Evansville, Indiana. 

He’s close to my age as we were born in the early 1960’s. 

He’s a down to earth and has one of the most easy going personalities on the planet.

Since I started covering the Marlins last year, I’ve gotten to know him through our Media Zoom Calls.

Before I got involved with the Marlins last year, I didn’t have much experience with Zoom Calls. 

It’s safe to say that by the end of the year, I got a lot of practice and became much more comfortable.

In 2020, Mattingly guided the Marlins to the playoffs through a COVID-19 shortened season. 

He had to deal with everything imaginable as the virus was spiraling out of control. 

There were cancellations of games, unprecedented player movement, etc... 

But the man kept his team together and the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2003. 

He would go on to win the National League Manager of The Year.

The Marlins have stuck with him through an extensive rebuild when he was hired in 2016. Last year, he saw the fruits of his labor. 

No matter what questions we threw at Don, he gave straight answers and never avoided a question unless he truly didn’t know the answer to such as test results, etc...

But today, Mattingly reached an all-time high with me!

I did ask him about other sports dealing with COVID-19 and that baseball had to deal with these challenges first. 

When I asked him a question about the new vaccine, the thing that stood out was “He can’t wait to see all of our smiling faces in person again.”

Marlins reporter Jessica Blaylock acknowledged it on her Twitter account and I’m glad that she spoke for all of us! 

The job of a manager is not only guide his team on the field, but be the face of the franchise!

That person faces us every day so he or she must handle themselves in a dignified manner!

That’s what Mattingly does everyday. 

His players love him! 

He expects them to work hard everyday. 

He gives them an open door policy in the clubhouse. 

The players are a product of the leader that their manager is. He’s a calming influence.

We all enjoy and respect him in the media.

This is what it’s about. Some managers or head coaches get it. Some don’t. 

If they don’t they’ll be gone!

There are times in the media where we deserve criticism. That goes with the territory because of how we conduct our business with the decisions we make.

I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great coaches and managers through my 41 years covering all sports. 

Without a doubt, they all have different personalities and there are times when we can catch them at bad times at the office.

But when you have a sincere individual addressing a group of professionals in a matter for which Mattingly addressed us, how do you not root for the man?

If you don’t, shame on you!

Nowadays, it’s tough to do what we need to do because of our limited accessibility because we can’t have face-face-contact with anyone. 

So we have to rely on the virtual platform for the foreseeable future.

Hopefully that changes. But until it does, we all have to make the best of a tough situation.

At this stage of my life, I couldn’t think of a Manager/Leader that I would rather work with than Don Mattingly!

I’m Looking forward to seeing you again in person, Donnie! 

But in the meantime, I enjoy the updates we get with you through Zoom and I have to admit that I have not only benefited through the South Florida Tribune and our broadcasts, but I have learned some valuable life lessons as well! 

Don Mattingly is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met!

I can’t forget to mention that he recently signed a contract extension, so he’s not going anywhere.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

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