The New York Times bestseller. “The sprawling, brawling, no-punches-pulled narrative Martin deserves . . . one of baseball’s epic characters.”—Tom Verducci, bestselling author of The Cubs Way
Even now, years after his death, Billy Martin remains one of the most intriguing and charismatic figures in baseball history. And the most misunderstood. A manager who is widely considered to have been a baseball genius, Martin is remembered more for his rabble-rousing and public brawls on the field and off. He was combative and intimidating, yet endearing and beloved. In Billy Martin, Bill Pennington resolves these contradictions and pens the definitive story of Martin’s life. From his hardscrabble youth to his days on the Yankees in the 1950s and through sixteen years of managing, Martin made sure no one ever ignored him. Drawing on exhaustive interviews and his own time covering Martin as a young sportswriter, Pennington provides an intimate, revelatory, and endlessly colorful story of a truly larger-than-life sportsman.
“Enormously entertaining . . . Explores the question of whether a baseball lifer can actually be a tragic figure in the classic sense—a man destroyed by the very qualities that made him great.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Bill Pennington gives long-overdue flesh to the caricature . . . Pennington savors the dirt-kicking spectacles without losing sight of the man.”—The New York Times Book Review
“The hair on my forearms was standing up by the end of the fifth paragraph of this book’s introduction. I knew Billy Martin. I covered Billy Martin. But I never knew him like this.”—Dan Shaughnessy, bestselling author of Reversing the Curse
In this definitive biography, New York Times columnist Pennington (The Heisman) portrays former New York Yankees manager Billy Martin as a baseball man of superior knowledge, albeit one who battled demons his entire life. Martin was killed in a traffic accident on Christmas Day, 1989 a sad ending for a 61-year-old California native who spent 12 seasons playing second base for seven Major League Baseball teams. From 1969 to 1988, he also managed five pro teams. Remembered for his tenacity on the field, Martin also liked to kick dirt on umpires' shoes and run trick plays. But he became even more famous off the field for his fiery temper, blatant philandering, and massive alcohol consumption. Numerous books about Martin already exist, including two by the man himself. But Pennington, a Yankees beat writer in the 1980s who witnessed several of the incidents recounted here in animated detail, was able to accomplish something that no other author has: he interviewed all four of Martin's wives. A motley cast of baseball Hall of Famers, including Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle, Rod Carew, Ricky Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Tommy Lasorda, and Earl Weaver, make appearances in this must-read for fans of the great American pastime.
As a lifelong Yankee fan, I’m now 83, I lived through Billy Martin’s entire Major League career. It began with radio, not that common on the west coast, and newspapers. Finally with television I was able to follow my Yankee heroes for those many years. This was a good book and I remember many of the events it included. Thank you for this excellent remembrance.