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Billy Martin

Bouncing Back To The Yankees

When Martin left Oakland, his old antagonist Stein-brenner wanted him back again. The Yankees finished third in 1983, and Martin was suspended twice for abusing umpires—he kicked dirt on one and called another "a stone liar." In December, Steinbrenner fired Martin as manager but kept him on as adviser. In 1985, Steinbrenner fired manager Yogi Berra and rehired Martin, for the fourth time. The team finished second, and Martin was fired again but kept in the office. In 1988 Steinbrenner again put Martin in the manager's position, and the team was on a winning streak when Martin got injured in a brawl in a Texas nightclub. In June, Martin was let go again, and the Yankees finished fifth.

Billy Martin, catching ball

Martin was still employed by the Yankees as an adviser when, on Christmas night, 1989, he and longtime friend William Reedy, a Detroit bar owner, were driving on an icy road near Martin's home in Binghamton, New York. With Reedy at the wheel, the truck skidded off the road and Martin was thrown through the windshield, fracturing his neck and injuring his spinal column. He died soon afterward in a Binghamton hospital. Reedy was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Just eight days earlier, on December 17, Martin and Steinbrenner had read "The Night before Christmas" together at a charity concert. Rumors circulated that Stein-brenner was considering Martin for a sixth term as manager, but Steinbrenner told the New York Times, "No way. He was too happy doing what he was doing. He was coming upstairs. He was going to be there more than ever before."

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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: