Billy Martin enjoyed an 11-year big league playing career that included five trips to the World Series and four rings. Immediately after retiring in 1961, Martin took a job scouting for the Twins. He remained in the Minnesota organization in various roles until getting the manager’s job after the 1968 season.
His Twins won the Western Division by 9 games over Oakland. However, his combustible nature and heavy drinking made him more trouble than he was worth. Twins owner Calvin Griffith fired him after the season.
After sitting out the 1970 season, his first outside of baseball since 1946, Martin took the reins of the Tigers in 1971. He led Detroit to a 91-71 record, a 12-game improvement over the year before. In 1972 he led the Tigers to the ALCS where the eventual champions Oakland Athletics beat them in 5 games.
The following season Martin publicly criticized Detroit GM Jim Campbell for not retooling the Tiger roster. His behavior drew the ire of Detroit owner John Fetzer who fired him in early September.
Billy’s next stop was in Texas. The Rangers averaged more than 100 losses from 1971-1973. In Martin’s first full season he took a team that lost 105 the season before and turned them into a winning club. The Rangers finished 84-76, a 27-game improvement. Martin was named Manager of the Year.
The team regressed in ’74 and ownership became less willing to put up with Billy’s antics. On July 20th with his team 41-55, Martin was fired.
Two weeks later Yankee owner George Steinbrenner hired Martin. The Boss would hire and fire Billy five times during their association. Overall Martin’s Yankees went 556-383 in his 8 seasons as the manager. They won two pennants and gave him his only ring as a skipper.
Billy’s only other managerial job came in Oakland in from 1980-1982. His experience with the A’s was predictable – initial success made his drinking and tirades palatable, but in the end he self-destructed. Billy’s aggressive style and unwillingness to back down was at once his greatest attribute and his downfall.
Billy Martin’s enthusiasm for the game can be seen in this handwritten letter written sometime after his firing in 1978. Martin writes to a fan who’s having trouble learning a foreign language. “Seems like you enjoy Latin as much as I like sitting out next year! I can’t wait for 1980.”
After leading the team to consecutive AL pennants and the 1977 World Series championship, Martin was fired 94 games into the 1978 season. Bob Lemon replaced Martin and led them to their second straight title. Martin wrote the letter between his firing in 1978 and his hiring midway through the 1979 season.
Yankees in the 1950’s used the Kansas City athletics as a farm system acquiring many of their star players including Roger Maris, and others, it was a league joke in those days!they were the bronze bombers for a reason! Casey
Stengel also had Billy Martin a former Kansas City player!
I always enjoyed Martin. Thanks
My dad didn’t like Billy Martin because he’d played for the Oakland Oaks and we were San Francisco Seals fans.