Don Mattingly has had his share. I often think about the night he cranked one out in the 1995 ALDS. I was watching on televsion that night and it must have been just as exciting as being at the stadium because when the announcer yelled “hang onto the roof”, it was clear to me, the world wanted the Yankees to go all the way so Don Mattingly would win a ring. It never happened, and Mattingly, while great and iconic in pinstripes, probably have been even better and lasted in his career longer if his back didn’t act up…can you even imagine.
But to me, it wasn’t just the hits and the amazing plays at first base. It was Mattingly the man and because today is his birthday, I found it fitting to tell you all of my favorite Mattingly moment ever.
Look, in Donnie's career, it was clear, he was just happy to be there and his talent, while incredible, was just another part of the game to him. He didn’t care about the individual awards, he want his team to win. He appreciated the fans and still does to this day and through it all, he didn’t walk away angry or frustrated, he embraced his time and I admire Mattingly very much for that. That my friends is a man. That my friends says "I did my best." You have to love that.
But there’s 1 moment that is incredibly hard to find and impossible to find on the Internet for that matter. I know...impossible right, the Internet has everything, but not this. I found message boards and forums and all of them talk about it, but none of them show it. But if you read us, you know that we did our best and we found it for you. Believe me, I searched high and low for a still image or a piece of video of this moment and for the longest time, I could not find it... until now. Thank God I did because it’s special and proves to me and so many of us in Yankeeland that Don Mattingly is a true class act. Sure, the moment is brief, but if you were a Yankee fan like I was growing up, this moment would have made me a Mattingly fan for life if I wasn't already. If you're not familiar, it was Don Mattingly chasing a ball into foul territory. The ball was clearly going way back in the stands. Mattingly runs out of bounds strictly on momentum. He then slowed down, walked over to the front row of the seats, reaches into a kid's popcorn box and the 2 shared a moment. To be honest, I’d love to talk to that kid today and get inside his head because I’m not sure a single word was spoken at that moment. It was just a baseball hero and a kid who loves the game...that's it. The boy literally looks at his popcorn and realizes that someone's grabbing at it...that some happens to be Mattingly.
Mattingly gave that kid a story for life and while I searched everywhere to find this small clip, it wasn’t until now that I’m able to finally share it with all of you. Now sure if you remember it, but check it out below. It’s touching to me and I know it was for that boy.
I don’t know, call me sappy. Maybe it has more of impact on me than others because I think about my kids now growing up loving their sports heroes and at the end of the day, they never get to meet them, but on that rare occasion they do, well, it’s extra special and they will always remember it.
Look, Don Mattingly’s a class act and was an amazing New York Yankee and throughout his entire career he did it the best he could. To me though, it's moments like this that make Don Mattingly a true man of men. We here at Bleeding Yankee Blue wanted to bring it to you. Enjoy it and share it, because it doesn’t get better than those 4 seconds.
Oh and Happy Birthday to Mikey Blue, my friend for over 2o years and who would have thought, his idol happens to be Don Mattingly, who also happens to be born on this same day...April 20th! Mikey, this post is for you.