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Billy Martin

Career Changes

Winding down as a player, Martin began scouting for the Twins in 1961 and held that position for three quiet years. He had remarried in 1959 and had a son, Billy Joseph. In 1965 he accepted a job as third-base coach for the Twins, where he remained until the beginning of the 1968 season. Then he was sent to manage the Denver Bears, the Twins' top farm club. After a successful season there, he was offered the job as manager of the Minnesota Twins.

Martin brought the team to first place, from seventh the previous year. However, Howard Fox, the Twins' road secretary and an old enemy of Martin's, wanted Martin out. The Twins fired him, but the Detroit Tigers hired him for the 1971 season. Martin came on board, bringing with him his right-hand man, pitching coach and friend, Art Fowler, whom he had met with the Bears in 1968. The two worked wonders with the Detroit team, bringing it up to second place from fourth.

The next year, the Tigers came in first place, even though they lost the playoffs to Oakland. By 1973, however, Martin wanted to trade some aging Detroit players for new blood, but the general manager remained loyal to his longtime players. The team slipped to third place, and Martin, blamed for the downfall, was let go.

One week after Detroit fired him, the Texas Rangers hired Martin as manager. The team did poorly during the first season but in 1974 moved up to second place. By 1975, however, a new owner would not renew Martin's contract giving him control over hiring players. The owner then fired Martin when the team's ranking dropped.

Awards and Accomplishments

1952 Yankees won World Series
1953 Yankees won World Series; named Most Valuable Player in World Series
1956 Yankees won World Series; named to All-Star team
1974 Named Manager of the Year in the American League by the Associated Press
1976 As manager of New York Yankees, won American League pennant
1977-78 As manager of New York Yankees, won American League pennant and World Series

Related Biography: Pitching Coach Art Fowler

John Arthur "Art" Fowler, born July 3, 1922, in Converse, South Carolina, was Billy Martin's pitching coach from the time Martin took over as manager of the Minnesota Twins in 1969 until George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, fired Fowler in June 1983. He was rehired briefly during the mid-1980s but was fired again in June 1988, along with Martin.

Although some critics said Fowler was Martin's "drinking buddy," the two had great success with players. The tough and disagreeable Martin passed along his instructions to Fowler, who then, amicably and with a sense of humor, passed them along to the players. The three-way rapport worked well. The Twins came up from seventh to first place in the American League Western Division in 1969 under Martin and Fowler. In 1972 the pair helped to bring the Detroit Tigers in first, over the Baltimore Orioles, who had been on a winning streak. In 1974 the Texas Rangers improved by twenty-seven games and finished second to Oakland. Martin and Fowler went on to three American League pennants and two World Series wins with the New York Yankees from 1976 to 1978 and first- and second-place wins at Oakland in the early 1980s.

Fowler was mostly a relief pitcher during his playing days, with the Cincinnati Reds (1954-57), the Los Angeles Dodgers (1959), and the Los Angeles Angels (1961-64). His brother Jesse had played with the St. Louis Cardinals thirty years before Art began his career in the major leagues. Art finished his pitching career with a 54-51 record, 539 strikeouts and thirty-two saves.

Martin wrote in his autobiography Billyball, "My pitching coach, Art Fowler, has taught our pitchers how to throw the spitball." Fowler also encouraged them to throw strikes. Pitcher Matt Keough recalled, "Art was master of the psychological approach. If you weren't throwing strikes, you'd have to go to the bullpen and watch him … throw fifty pitches- and forty-five for strikes. It was embarrassing."

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Famous Sports StarsBaseballBilly Martin Biography - "belli," But Tough, New York Yankee, Chronology, The Hard Years, Career Changes - SELECTED WRITINGS BY MARTIN: