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Billy Martin

Man And Manager

Billy Martin has been called a baseball genius, yet he seemed bent on self-destruction. Because of his many conflicts with umpires, Richie Phillips, general counsel of the Major League Umpires Association, called him "the quintessential recidivist in baseball." However, he had another side, one that the public rarely saw. Michael Goodwin wrote in the New York Times that away from the baseball stadium Martin was "generous, thoughtful, a loyal friend, wonderful with children, the elderly, and even strangers down on their luck." Matt Keough, a former Oakland pitcher now working as a scout, told journalist Ron Bergman in a 2001 interview, "It's a travesty that Billy's not in the Hall of Fame. He won with every kind of team he ever had."

Martin had firm convictions about his management style, and he adhered to them throughout his career, in spite of his seemingly brash personality. He told sportswriter and author Leonard Koppett, "For a team to win, a manager has to find ways to motivate different individuals. He has to judge correctly each man's abilities and weaknesses, and find the right ways and the right time to use them. He has to show them how something can be done better, and offer them loyalty and confidence. And he has to have authority, above all, because none of the other things can happen if the players don't have confidence in the manager's judgment." Martin established personal relationships with his players, and they loved him for it. He once said, "Out of 25 guys, there should be fifteen who would run through a wall for you, two or three who don't like you at all, five who are indifferent and maybe three undecided. My job is to keep the last two groups from going the wrong way."

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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: