DON MATTINGLY: CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
Don was drafted in the 19th round (490th Overall Pick) of the Free Agent Draft by the New York Yankees on June 5, 1979 and was later signed by Yankees' scouts Jax Robertson and Gus Poulos on June 26.
Don was named South Atlantic League's Most Valuable Player after leading the league in batting with a .358 average and hits with 177 for the Single-A Greensboro Hornets.
Don was named the New York Yankees Minor League Player Of The Year after batting .316 for the Double-A Nashville Sounds. Led the league in doubles with 35. Named to 2 All-Star Teams.
Don's stellar season for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers led to a September callup to the New York Yankees on September 7. He played in his first Major League game on September 8 Vs. the Baltimore Orioles, replacing Dave Winfield in left field. His first major league at-bat was against Jim Slaton on September 11, and his first Major League RBI came on a sacrifice fly on September 29 Vs. the Cleveland Indians. His first Major League hit was an 11th inning single off of Sammy Stewart on October 1 Vs. the Boston Red Sox.
Don won the "James P. Dawson Award" as outstanding rookie in the Yankees' Spring Training. His impressive spring stats allowed him to open the year up with the Yankees and he was in the starting lineup on Opening Day. He was demoted back to Columbus on April 14, where he proceeded to tear up the league batting .340 until he was recalled by the New York Yankees for good on June 20. The retirement of Bobby Murcer on that day opened up a roster spot for him. Don's first Major League home run came off of John Tudor on June 24 at Fenway Park. He played first base in Dave Righetti's July 4 no-hitter Vs. the Boston Red Sox. During the conclusion of the infamous "Pine Tar" game on August 18, Don played 1/3 of an inning at second base.
Don didn't start the season as the first baseman, but he was awarded the job on April 25. He was named to the All-Star team as a reserve. He led the league in batting average (.343, beating teammate Dave Winfield on the last day of the season), hits (207), doubles (44) and multiple hit games (59). Along with Don Baylor and Dave Winfield, they hit 3 consecutive home runs in the 6th inning Vs. the California Angels. He was the first left-hander to hit above .340 since Lou Gehrig in 1937 and the first New York Yankee to win the batting title since Mickey Mantle in 1956, even though he only led the league for 15 days out of the whole season!!!
MVP!! Don was awarded the American League's Most Valuable Player Award after this season. He led the Major Leagues with 145 RBI, 48 doubles, and 15 sacrifice flies. He led the American League with 370 total bases. 21 Game Winning RBI and 86 extra-base hits. He also hit .324 to go along with his 35 home runs! He was the first New York Yankee to lead the American League in RBIs since Roger Maris in 1961! He made the All-Star team for the second year in a row, again as a reserve. Don had surgery twice in this year, once on February 22 to repair a cartilage tear in his right knee that caused him to miss the first 18 Spring Training games and minor surgery on November 12 to correct a catch in a tendon in his right hand.
MVP Runner up. Would have won if pitcher's were not considered, as Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox took first place. He led the Major Leagues in hits (238), slugging percentage (.573), total bases (388), doubles (53), and extra base hits (86). His 238 hits and 53 doubles set new records for the Yankees. Finished second in the American League in hitting, .352 to Wade Boggs' .357. Wade chose to sit out the last 4 games of the season to heal a sore right hamstring in preparation for the League Playoffs. Don became only the 11th Major League player to finish with 230 hits, 100 RBIs, and 30 home runs! Played in all 162 games, missing only 6 innings all year. He made his first start as a designated hitter on July 6 Vs. the Chicago White Sox. He also appeared in 3 games as a third baseman, the first one on August 29 Vs. the Seattle Mariners. Had a career high 24 game hitting streak which was the longest in the American League. Third atraight All-Star appearance.
In a year that became the turning point in Don's career, he set several records. Most notably were 2 home run records. He hit 10 home runs in 8 consecutive games and he hit 6 grand slams, both Major League records. However, on June 4, he injured his back fielding ground balls before the game. Although he played that evening, going 2 for 3 with an RBI, he left the game and had tests taken at NYU's Medical Center. A disc problem was diagnosed and he was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career. This disc problem led to his extended stint on the disabled list in 1990 and robbed Donnie of most of his "power." Another problem that haunted Don throughout his career was his right wrist, which was injured on July 18 when he hit his record tying home run in the 8th straight game. An interesting fact, on May 20 Vs. the Oakland Athletics he reached first base on catcher's interference for the only time in his career. At the end of the season, he became the first person to compile a perfect 1.000 score in the Elias Sports Bureau's report for the MLBPA. He ranked first in each category used to judge first basemen: Batting Average, On-Base Percentage, Home Runs, and Runs Batted In. This was also the only year that he was elected to start in the All-Star Game.
On July 3 Vs. the Chicago White Sox, Don had his 1,000th hit off of Bill Long. He was also named to his fifth straight All-Star Game, again as a reserve. He was placed on the disabled list for the second time in his career on May 27, this time due to a strained muscle in his right side. A ten game hitting streak immediately after his activation from the disabled list combined with a seven game streak immediately before the injury gave Don a 17-game hitting streak that year! He became only the 8th player in New York Yankees' history to hit .300+ in five consecutive seasons. He is also the first Yankee since Mickey Mantle to lead the Yankees in hits for five straight years. He also won his fourth straight Gold Glove Award.
This year Don became the 6th Yankee, and first since Joe DiMaggio in 1942, to hit .300+ in 6 consecutive seasons. Don also made the All-Star Team for his 6th straight season, but it was also the last time he was chosen in his career. He also got his first, and only, hit in this All-Star game. Donnie won his 5th Gold Glove Award as well this year. His 17 game hitting Streak (Jun 17-July 4) was tied with Steve Sax for the longest of the Yankees' season. He played in his 1000th career game Vs. the California Angels on September 12, going 4 for 4 with a home run and 4 RBIs. He also missed the first 3 games of the year with back spasms, but did not miss another one all year.
This year turned out to be the toughest of Don's career. He batted only .256 and managed to play in only 102 games. In July, after playing first base in Andy Hawkin's losing (unofficial) no-hitter, he missed 7 games because of back spasms. He came back to play in 13 games, but his back forced him on the disabled list for the longest time in his career (July 25-September 11). On August 6, Dr. Robert Watkins prescribed an exercise program that, with minor modifications, Don performed everyday until the end of his career. On May 15, Don his his 100th home run (off of Minnesota's Roy Smith) at Yankee Stadium becoming only the 11th Yankee to do so. On July 15, Don played left field for one inning, the last time he played in the outfield during his career. Despite his injury filled, and statistically low, season he still led all Yankees with 13 intentional walks.
Don was appointed the Yankees' Team Captain on February 28 by manager Stump Merrill. Although his back held out and he avoided the disabled list this year, he missed 6 games in May/June because of a dislocated right pinky, an injury caused by sliding head first into second base on May 27. The lowpoint of the year was when Donnie was benched on August 15 for refusing to get his hair cut. He won his 6th Gold Glove Award, the most in New York Yankees' history. His April 23 home run off of Frank Tanana was his first since May 20, 1990!
The "Hitman" Returns. Donnie posted team-leading numbers in almost every category including games, At-Bats, Batting Average, RBIs, runs, hits, doubles, and multi-hit games. First Yankee to lead the club in RBIs for 6 seasons since Yogi Berra did it in 1955. Won his 7th Gold Glove Award and tied the Yankees' record for single season fielding percentage among first basemen. Missed one game in April because of tendinitis in this right pinky finger.
Donnie set a new team record for single season fielding percentage among first basemen, breaking a record he tied the previous season. A check swing on May 13 Vs. the Milwaukee Brewers pulled a muscle in his left rib cage and forced him onto the disabled list the next day. He played first base in Jim Abbott's 4-0 no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians. (NOTE: I WAS AT THIS GAME!!) Don sat out the last 2 games of the year because of tendinitis in his right wrist. A tendon was decompressed and a small cyst was removed from that wrist during surgery on November 18. He won his 8th Gold Glove this year! In a post season survey by Baseball America, Don was voted the fan's 3rd favorite player behind Frank Thomas and Ken Griffey, Jr. He was also voted the 8th best role model.
Don returned to the ranks of .300 hitters this season with a .304 batting average. On June 28, he was placed on the disabled list because of tendinitis in his right wrist. Don has always stated that this wrist problem was more of an annoyance to him that his back problem. Don got his 1000th career RBI on April 7 against the Texas Rangers. Hit number 2000 came on July 23 off of California's Russ Springer. He is only the 6th Yankee to reach that plateau and the 197th Major League player. On July 24, he hit his first ever pinch hit home run against the California Angels. Set a new single season fielding record among first basemen with a percentage of .99798, beating the record he set the previous year by mere percentage points. He also won his 9th, and last, Gold Glove Award.
In his 14th, and last, Major League season, marked Don's first appearance in Post Season play. Although he was plagued by many aliments, but managed to stay off the disabled list. A viral infection in his right eye early in the season combined with an injury to his left hamstring caused Don to miss some playing time and affected his performance when he did play. On June 24 Vs. the Toronto Blue Jays, Don recorded his 1000th hit at Yankee Stadium, an RBI single off of Woody Williams, becoming only the 4th player to do so. Back spasms caused him to miss some playing time at the end of August, but when he returned in September he started with a 7 game hitting streak. On September 9, Vs. the Boston Red Sox, he scored the 1000th run of his career becoming only the 9th Yankee to do so and the 227th Major League player. On October 1, in the last regular season at-bat of the year and his career, he homered off of Toronto's Pat Hentgen. Earlier that same night he recorded his 7000th career at-bat. A sub-par performance on the field caused him to fall to second place behind Steve Garvey for the best career fielding percentage among first basemen.
1995 Post Season
After 1,785 regular season games, Don finally reached the playoffs. After several seasons of "average" play, Don reached back into his youth and played like it was 1985 again. During the 5-game Wild Card Playoff against the Seattle Mariners, Don batted .417 and had 1 home run and 6 RBI. He led the Yankees with 10 hits. In game 2 he hit a home run immediately after Ruben Sierra for back-to-back home runs. Fans littered the field with debris in celebration of the home run and opposing manager, Lou Piniella, took his team off the field until it stopped. Although the Mariners eventually defeated the Yankees in this series, it is comforting to know that Donnie Baseball had finally made it to the playoffs. On November 10, Don filed for free agency and later informed the Yankees that he had no interest in playing baseball in 1996, thus ending a great career.
Ranking In Yankee History (At Time Of Retirement)
Don ranks second in New York Yankees' history in doubles (442), fifth in hits (2,153) and at-bats (7,003). Seventh in games (1,785), batting average (.307), home runs (222). And eighth in RBI (1,099) and runs scored (1,007).
During his Major League Career his total service time amounted to 11 Years and 122 Days!
This Page Was Designed By Joseph Riccitelli, Jr. on June 3, 1997.
I Last Made Changes On: Sun March 11, 2007
Copyright 1997-2007, Joseph Riccitelli, Jr.