Don Mattingly Chat On AOL 05/09/98
Welcome to the AOL Sports Dome as Real Fans presents Yankee great Don
Mattingly live for a chat event tonight. We're very excited to present Donnie
Baseball to you tonight and give fans a chance to ask Don about his life as a
Yankee and his life after baseball. As you may know, Don Mattingly had his
number 23 retired by the Yankees on August 31, 1997 Mattingly finished his
career with 222 career home runs, 1099 RBIs and 2,153 hits in 14 major league
seasons. He had a career batting average of .307 and won a batting title in
1984 with a .343 average. He won seven Gold Gloves and was a six-time All-
Star. As you can imagine, we're very excited to have Don Mattingly tonight for
a chat. Without further adieu, let's get to the questions ...
How is retirement
RFDonM23: Great, really! It's been an experience that took a while to get
used to. My time was structured for so long, it some some adjustment. Even
during the winter, you knew spring training was coming, but NOW, I have to get
used, to having all this time on my hand.
OnlineHost: Any thoughts of getting back into the game in some capacity?
RFDonM23: Many thoughts! I'd love to get back into the game at some time... I
had a few opportunities this spring, but I thought about being away from my
farm, my kids, and all the travel. The timing isn't quite right now, but as my
kids get older, I'd like to get into coaching and management. We'll see what
opportunities open for me when the time comes.
Question: Hi Don! Were you upset that the Yankees won the World Series right
after you retired?
RFDonM23: It was tough to deal with for a little bit, because I was with the
team for so long. I was a big part of the building process, so it was tough to
watch. Obviously, my career had been more fulfilling if I had actually won a
ring. But when the decision came for me to retire, it was done entirely on my
own terms. It was time to get out. I feel good about my decision.
Question: Donnie, who was your favorite baseball player growing up?
RFDonM23: Growing up.. .DEFINITELY Rod Carew... I wanted to be just like Rod
in every way... wearing the pants down low... hitting the ball the opposite
way, etc. I also loved George Brett, Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken, Don Baylor,
Paul Molitor, and Robin Yount. I even had the honor of facing Nolan Ryan...
Not many complaints from me!
Question: What was your reaction when the Yankees called and told you that
you're number was going to be retired?
OnlineHost: The Yankees retired Don Mattingly's number on August 31, 1997
RFDonM23: Well, surprised for sure! The first year out, I left the door open
to possibly come back...it wasn't until the press conference in NY that Mr.
Steinbrenner announced the retirement of my number. I feel honored to be
retired among Ruth, Mantle, DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, and Billy Martin... I never
really took myself that seriously when I played, so this is a tremendous
Question: If you could re-live any moment in your career, what would that
RFDonM23: Umm... I guess the biggest thrill for me was coming out of the
dugout in the first game the playoffs in New York against Seattle. Being
pumped about being in the game, in the stadium was a great feeling, and a
memory that will never go away. The memory is so fresh and it was such a cool
Question: Don, You have some of the quickest hands with the bat in baseball.
What did you do to develope this tremendous hand speed?
RFDonM23: Honestly, I don't think I did anything. My hand speed is God-given
I worked on eye-hand coordination and hand strength. There were a few things
I did, but a lot of what happened was God-given.
Question: Would you consider taking a coaching position if offered? What if
that offer came from Buck Showalter's Arizona Diamondbacks?
RFDonM23: I think everything would involve timing for me. I can do just
about anything if I'm motivated to do it. It wouldn't necessarily have to be
at the Major League level.. I would possibly like to teach, and follow MY role
models...I've learned a lot from many other players, and I would like to
follow in their footsteps. Even at the Little League level, I would love to be
able to teach.
Question: Was George Steinbrenner a positive or negative influence on the
teams you played on? What was the largest impact he made on the club?
RFDonM23: I think at times positive, and at times negative. Overall, I would
have to say positive. The biggest impact he made can be seen now... getting to
the playoffs is his plan coming together. You knew in your heart that
everything within your power was going to be done to win. You were there to
win the World Series... and there was no other purpose to his actions with the
team. He is a driven person who wants nothing more than to win.
Question: Now that you're retired, who's the best fielding first baseman in
RFDonM23: That would be tough for me to say.. while you're playing, you see a
lot of different players. It would be tough to say... but Grace with the Cubs
is good...JT Snow is outstanding, as is McGwire, Wally Joyner is great.. Tino
Martinez is improving... it would be hard for me to say who is actually the
BEST...JT and Grace are probably two of the best out there, but there are a
lot of good ones.
Question: Don, with the aging of Yankee Stadium so prominently featured in
the news recently, I'd like to ask your opinion on whether the "Bronx Bombers"
should leave it for a new stadium elsewhere?
RFDonM23: Well, if it could be avoided, I would say they should stay at
Yankee Stadium for as long as possible. When you think about all the great
players that have played there, it makes it hard to think about them leaving
to play elsewhere.
Question: Don, what do you think about your chances to make the Hall of Fame?
RFDonM23: I don't know! I guess it depends upon what they judge it on. If
they go on pure numbers, I probably don't do as well...I feel like I did what
I did, I played like I played, and worked as hard as possible...I don't like
politics, so I'll let the powers that be decide that question. I felt that I
could have played with everybody, so we'll have to wait and see.
Question: What made you retire when you did? Was it mostly the back problems?
RFDonM23: Definitely NOT back problems. What made me retire was motivation.
I was getting really tired of the travel, the hotels, missing my kids, etc.
My kids had their "little groove" going, and it was getting hard to disrupt
their lives. I found myself not wanting to be there a lot. I had given too
much for a long time, and it was getting to the point where it was hard to put
out the effort to remain a competitive player. Time was telling me to get
out. Even though I loved the game, it was time.
Comment: Don I hope you get to see this . I've been a Yankee fan since my
first game as a child when i saw Mickey Mantle. Never have I seen a player
with your spirit. You will always be in my heart and always be remembered.
RFDonM23: That's cool! One thing about New York that I've noticed...is the
connection people made with players. It kinda became old-timers day... how
people relate you to the other greats that played for the Yankees...
Generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters makes the historical
side of the game so cool. To be a link among the generations has always been
a special thing to me.
Question: What baseball players, past or present, do you most admire, and
RFDonM23: That's SO hard.. there are so many guys that I admire.. and for
different reasons... to pick just one would be so hard. If there was one guy
that I'd like to play like, it would have to be George Brett. He played so
hard, and you saw the fun in his eyes when you played. You hear the phrase "I
wanna be like Mike", well, I wanted to be like George.
Question: Don, Has your work with Children's Help made any advances in the
realm of medicine? And explain Children's Help.
RFDonM23: Children't Health Fund started as a mobile medical unit that
brought health care to needy families in New York. People in hotels, shelters
and the like who do not get proper health care. This Mobile Medical Unit
would go to them and provide free medical treatment to these people. When Kim
and I had our first child, we began to get involved with many organizations
that help The Health Fund began treating these children, getting them into
hospitals when necessary and help. In terms of advancements, it has helped
many people to get the health care they would normally would have received. I
think everybody deserves a chance to be healthy. Take Ear Infections for
example... A child needs medication to prevent the problem from getting worse.
No medication means the child remains ill, cannot hear, and then their grades
in school suffer. They need an education to improve their situations... If
they are able to get their medication, and get proper health care, they'll be
better off becoming a productive citizen.
Comment: Donnie, as a life long Yankee fan I just want to thank you for a
great decade and want to let you know we still miss your presence at the
Question: What kind of drills and advice do you recomend for a young baseball
RFDonM23: I guess one drill for young players is plain old "Pitch and Catch".
It's amazing how this can help in developing form, foot position, endurance,
etc. This is also good for muscle development. Hitting off a tee is also
helpful in developing short strides and level swings.
Question: Don, do you attend many games these days or follow on TV?
RFDonM23: I kinda watch through highlights... I will watch more as the summer
goes on.. right now though, I just watch highlights. I DO watch a lot of games
around here in Evansville.. actually watching 6 or 7 games week right here!
Question: Who was the hardest pitcher you had to hit off of?
RFDonM23: Mark Langston... we was tough on me because of his running fast
ball... He had a good hard breaking ball, and also had a slider.. He gave me
more trouble than anyone!
Question: What, in your opinion, is the biggest reason we've seen more home
runs in the last few years?
RFDonM23: I think more instruction at the younger level... If you think back,
they look back at the big guys with big swings. Now we have guys like Frank
Thomas.. big guys with short swings that allow fewer holes in hitter's swing
areas. Aluminum bats have also affected their batting styles. It is very
hard to get a guy out on the inside with an aluminum The pitcher has been
pushed back a little bit because of aluminum bats.
Question: Don, I heard that you used to spend three hours at home (before
even going to the stadium) for batting practice to get ready for a game. What
was your routine?
RFDonM23: I think that was exaggerated... a bit. I worked out for my back
towards the end of my career. I spent maybe an hour or so doing back work.
You get so sick of everybody asking "How's Your Back'...etc. I set myself up
with enough equipment at home so nobody had to see me work out... It was a way
for me to do my work at home, the way I wanted to do it.
Question: Why did you choose number 23? Does it have any special meaning?
RFDonM23: It does now! I chose 23 because it was half of 46, which was my
number before that... and, I had just turned 23 so it stuck with me.
Question: Don, don't you have a computerized screensaver available?
RFDonM23: Yes... Blackhawk Graphics was nice enough to create a cool screen
saver and PC which is available at www.blackhawkcafe.com. It looks great, and
it catches me on a good day!
OnlineHost: Don, I understand you raise and train horses ... tell us about
RFDonM23: I can't tell you that I TRAIN horses... LOL. We raise them for
breeding purposes... but we still have a lot to learn Raymond Shively and Todd
Miles are great people in the industry... My wife shows, my kids show, and
it's great for the family, and for developing a sense of hard work. It's a
lot of physical work, and it's great for developing patience and watching
things grow and develop in time.
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