Inside Stories From A Major-League Locker Room
by Jim Ksicinski
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But Billy? Sometimes he would show up after the bus arrived. He would send the lineup with one of his coaches. Billy would stroll in later, and maybe he’d sit around the clubhouse. Maybe he’d watch batting practice for a while. Maybe he’d be on the phone.
A casual observer might wonder who was in charge. But once the national anthem finished playing, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a manager more on top of the game. Nothing got past Martin. He saw everything in the ballpark—a pretty woman sitting in a box seat behind home plate, a guy smoking a big cigar way up in the stands, or an outfielder standing two feet away from where he should have been playing a hitter.
Martin had a lot of success as a manager, too. He also was fired seven times, three times by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
I often wonder if there’s a job with less security than managing a major-league baseball team. A lot of managers came and went in my thirty-five years in the clubhouse. Many of them were gone before I really got to know them. Managers like Sparky Anderson and Tom Kelly, who kept coming back with the same team year after year, were a rarity.
In the late eighties, I realized that the old-time managers, who knew a lot about baseball, were being replaced by good baseball people who also had good relationships with their players. I often projected the managers of the future as guys who know the game to some degree but, more important, know how to handle players. I often thought that the successful managers would be the ones with degrees in philosophy or psychology.
I think you really have to love baseball to be a manager. Managers don’t come into the clubhouse and read novels or play games. Every once in a while they’ll get into a card game, but it’s usually baseball, baseball, baseball. They meet with their coaches. They talk to certain players. They have to take time to meet with the press. The phones are constantly ringing with general managers and scouts calling. And you know they were getting more of those same calls back at the hotel before they left for the ballpark.
The first manager I ever saw was the legendary Casey Stengel. It was the first day of my career in the clubhouse, in April 1963, and he was nearing the end of his career with the New York Mets. Casey walked into the clubhouse, stripped off all of his clothes, slapped on his baseball cap, and pranced around in the nude. He looked like a shriveled white raisin. It was a disgusting sight.
A lot of managers came and went over the years, but now, more than thirty-five years later, I still can’t get that image out of my mind.
From Jocks and Socks by Jim Ksicinski and Tom Flaherty.
Copyright © 2001 by Jim Ksicinski and Tom Flaherty. Reprinted by permission of the McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.