Mattingly doesn't expect Hall to call on 14th try
Enshrined in Monument Park, first baseman proud of storied career with Yanks
NEW YORK -- Don Mattingly once again may be dealing with a dose of uncertainty regarding his future as the Dodgers' manager, but the former big league first baseman seems sure of at least one thing: He won't need to book a trip to Cooperstown, N.Y., this summer.
Mattingly's name appeared as a candidate on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the 14th year, but the former Yankees captain does not figure to be waiting by the phone when results of the most recent round of voting are unveiled Wednesday.
The results will be announced exclusively on MLB Network and simulcast on MLB.com live on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET as part of a three-hour live show beginning at noon. On Thursday, MLB.com and MLB Network will air the news conferences featuring the electees live from New York at 11 a.m. ET.
"My first year of eligibility, I pretty much knew I wasn't going to make it or anything," Mattingly told ESPN last year. "I don't pay that much attention to it, to be honest with you. It's to the point now where it comes up and you're like, 'Oh, it's over,' and you go on."
Mattingly certainly appeared as though he might have been on a Hall of Fame track early in his playing career, which saw him represent the Yankees proudly for 14 seasons in pinstripes.
One of the most popular players in franchise history, Mattingly has been enshrined in Monument Park with his No. 23 retired by the Yankees. The nine-time Gold Glove Award winner said that honor will suffice for him.
"When I retired [after the 1995 season], I was 34," Mattingly told ESPN. "If I had kept playing another five years, I may have ended up with 3,000 hits and reached some other milestones and gotten in. I made the decision for my boys because I wanted to be around.
"When you do that type of thing, you know what you're doing, you know you're not going to make the Hall of Fame. If I was worried about making the Hall of Fame, I wouldn't have retired."
Mattingly's best showing was 28 percent in 2001, his first year on the ballot. In 2013, Mattingly appeared on 13.2 percent of ballots cast. A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from Baseball Writers' Association of America members to gain election to the Hall; no player received that number last year.
Over a six-year run that started in 1984, Mattingly averaged 27 home runs, 114 RBIs and a .327 average, representing the Yankees on the American League All-Star team in each of those seasons. No player during that stretch had more RBIs than Mattingly's 684, while only Hall of Famer Wade Boggs (1,269) had more hits than Mattingly's 1,219.
"Donnie Baseball" also accomplished an incredible feat in 1987, setting or tying five Major League records. He hit six grand slams to set a single-season mark, a record that was tied by Travis Hafner in 2006. From July 8-18, Mattingly went deep in eight consecutive games, tying Dale Long's 1956 record (an achievement later matched by Ken Griffey Jr. in 1993).
Mattingly's 10 homers during that streak are a big league record for most in an eight-game stretch, and Mattingly also recorded extra-base hits in 10 consecutive games, breaking Babe Ruth's 1921 record. On July 20, he tied a Major League record by recording 22 putouts at first base.
Mattingly edged teammate Dave Winfield in a memorable race for the the AL batting title in 1984 (.343) and won the 1985 AL MVP award, but he was later slowed by back injuries. From 1990-95, Mattingly averaged fewer than 10 home runs and 64 RBIs per season, topping the .300 mark just once, in the strike-shortened 1994 season.
"I was pretty good for a short period and, when I got banged up and hurt my back, it kind of robbed me of some things, things I wasn't able to do after that," Mattingly told ESPN. "That's just the way it is. There are a lot of guys who are probably in my boat, good players who got banged up and found it hard to be productive after that.
"For me, it was hard just to stay on the field. I was on the DL once a year, maybe twice, for the last five years. When you do that, it's really frustrating because you start rolling a little bit and the next thing you know, you're on the shelf. Couple that with my kids and everything and it's enough."
While voters may not feel that Mattingly's career matches up, his supporters raise the comparison to the Twins' Kirby Puckett, a first-ballot inductee in 2001 whose career was cut short after the 1995 season due to irreversible retina damage in his right eye.
Mattingly retired with 2,153 hits to Puckett's 2,304, 442 doubles to Puckett's 414, 222 homers to Puckett's 207 and 1,099 RBIs to Puckett's 1,085. Mattingly posted three more 100-RBI seasons than Puckett and two more 30-homer seasons, while winning one more MVP Award and the same number of batting titles.
Puckett's apparent advantage came in team hardware, as he played an integral part in the Twins' two World Series titles in 1987 and '91. Mattingly appeared in the postseason just once, losing in the AL Division Series in his final season, 1995.
So for now, Mattingly's Monument Park tribute may have to do. When his number was retired by the Yankees in 1997, a plaque was posted beyond Yankee Stadium's outfield wall to honor his career.
"A humble man of grace and dignity," reads the plaque. "A captain who led by example. Proud of the pinstripes tradition and dedicated to the pursuit of excellence. A Yankee forever."