Thursday, May 30, 2024

More Memories With Donnie Baseball

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

When I covered the NFL Draft four weeks ago in Detroit, I wanted to make the most out of the 12 days in that part of the country.

I promised my significant other that I would take her to Niagara Falls and Toronto, CA. 

She had never been to either place and these were short drives.

I’ve always viewed Toronto as one of the best cities that I have been to. I’ve seen the Maple Leafs play at Maple Leaf Gardens, in addition to the Blue Jays playing at the old Exhibition Stadium, then moving to the Skydome. 

The Spaghetti Factory is an awesome place to eat and the CN Tower is great to see the entire area.

On April 30, 2024, I returned to the renamed Sky Dome, which is now the Rogers Center, and there was only one person that I wanted to see.

My friend Don Mattingly is in his second season as a coach of the Toronto Blue Jays. 

We developed a great friendship when he was the manager of the Miami Marlins. 

He made the most of the limited resources he had in Miami.

Mattingly led the Marlins during the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic season and had to deal with some of the most unusual circumstances that a skipper was faced with. Yet, he took it all in stride and it was neat getting to know him on Zoom. The Marlins defeated the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs.

When the Media returned to LoanDepot Park, Mattingly’s Media Availability’s not only consisted of game updates, but I would ask him general baseball questions. There has never been a manager that I’ve worked with where I learned as much from than Mattingly.

His media sessions drew a lot of views on the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel. 

That’s how big of a following he has worldwide knowing that he played his entire MLB Career with the New York Yankees.

On a Zoom Call, I asked Mattingly during the Covid-19 Season, what he thought of too many no-hitters being thrown early in the season? He said it was bad for baseball. 

Craig Mish, who has covered the Marlins for years, was able to use my question and posted it on his twitter page, and it went viral as 392,000 people viewed it with my voice talking to the skipper.

But Don Mattingly cares about people. 

When I began having some medical issues, we would talk privately and he was always giving me moral support to stay positive. He said just to work through them. 

I had some concussion issues and he was telling me stories about players dealing with head trauma. He continued to remind me that I have to be patient how to deal with these head injuries. Then again, what would you expect a friend to say to a friend.

Fortunately, we always took some great pictures together and he’s in my book, “Lessons From The Microphone” as I had some great stories about a guy that truly belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

As we hung out in front of the Blue Jays dugout, I decided this time that seeing Mattingly was enough for me. 

I put my cell phone in my pocket and we just talked. 

We talked about his time in Miami and he said that he has the utmost respect for his successor Skip Schumaker and the struggles that the Marlins are experiencing.

But I could tell that by viewing his body language and voice that Mattingly is enjoying life in Toronto. He doesn’t worry about wins and losses as much as his focus is on teaching the game he knows to his current players. 

He didn’t seem like he was in a hurry to manage again, although knowing him like I do, he’ll lead a team if the right situation came along.

Moreover, he told me that he walks to Rogers Center because he lives across the street. We stayed five minutes away and it was pleasant because I didn’t have to worry about finding parking in an area that I didn’t know.

The best part about the Media Industry is the amount of friends that lead to great relationships through the years. I’ve been fortunate to have met a lot of great people especially in baseball.

The Blue Jays lost to the Kansas City Royals 4-1 on this night. The game took 2:19 to complete in front of 27,189 fans. 

There is no question that Toronto has some of the best fans in North America.

Toronto’s communications staff treated us great! I look forward to the day I return.

But on this night, it was all about Don Mattingly and I having more memories together! 

This is the one instance that I enjoyed not having to record a conversation. It was about handshakes and hugs and he told me that he always enjoys seeing me. 

That meant everything to me because life is too short and it’s important to create the memories while I’m able to. Our pictures together are priceless!

Covering a game at Rogers Center was a totally different experience as the press box is located a long the left-field line next to foul territory. 

The only place I’ve sat in the press box is behind home plate, but the Blue Jays decided to build suites instead to create another revenue stream. I can’t blame them for that.

One day, I would like to stay in the hotel at Rogers Center. Can you imagine not leaving the stadium to cover a game?

Unlike LoanDepot Park in Miami, there are plenty of restaurants and sports bars to hang out before and after the game.

But this was definitely a memorable night hanging out with “Donnie Baseball” North of the Border.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter/X @TribuneSouth.

To see Scott’s broadcasts, you can subscribe to the South Florida Tribune YouTube Channel at no cost.

Finally, Scott’s book, “Lessons From The Microphone” can be purchased on Amazon-Kindle along with Barnes & Noble.


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