HOF ’09: Don Mattingly


“Honestly, at one time I thought Babe Ruth was a cartoon character. I really did, I mean I wasn’t born until 1961 and I grew up in Indiana.”

Don Mattingly

Donnie Baseball, a nickname bestowed on him by the late Kirby Puckett, was arguably the best firstbaseman in the American League from 1984-87. In 1985 he was named AL MVP, driving in 145 runs, with 211 basehits, including 48 doubles & 35 HRs, winning the first of nine consecutive Gold Gloves. His average soared to .352 in 1986, with an amazing 238 hits, & 53 doubles, 113 RBIs. In 1984, Don was no slouch in his first full year in the bigs, batting .343, with 207 hits, and 110 runs batted in. Despite injuring his back during the 1987 season, Mattingly managed to put up some pretty good numbers, .327, 30 HRs, & 115 RBIs. Over the next two years he wasn’t the same, only 88 RBIs in 1988, bouncing back with 113 ribbies in 1989, batting .311 & .303 respectively, however his homers dropped to 18 & 23. The next year was the beginning of the end, only five homers, with a very average .256 batting average.

Turns out Don Mattingly’s injured back was the result of horseplay between himself and teammate Bob Shirley. A friend, in the know, said Bob Shirley brought drugs to the San Diego Padres during the 80s, now here’s another reason to dislike him. Without a doubt, Mattingly was on the fast track to Cooperstown, until the Shirley incident. He still managed a .307 batting average over 14 years, with 1,099 RBIs, 2,153 hits, and 222 home runs.

Although Mattingly never played in a World Series game during his fourteen year career with the Yanks, he’s one of the most popular Bronx Bombers ever. The Yankees lost the 1981 World Series, the year before Don Mattingly made his debut, in his first 13 years in pinstripes New York did not make it to postseason play. In 1994 the Yankees had the best record in the American League, but a players strike cut short the season and meant no postseason play. On the final day of his final regular season (1995) New York won the Wild Card, Mattingly batted .417 with 6 RBIs, but Seattle beat the Yankees in 11 innings of the decisive game five.

Despite his enormous popularity, his .300 batting average, and his HOF first four years of his career, I have to ask, “Why is this guy even on the ballot?”


  Hall of Fame

Hall of Very Good

Why is he even on the Ballot?


While we wait for January 12 ballot results, The Baseball Zealot will be profiling those players who are on the 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.  Read the rest the of the profiles.  

5 Responses to “HOF ’09: Don Mattingly”

  1. Donnie Baseball belongs in the Yankees HOF but I agree, he won’t make it to Cooperstown.

    A die hard Yankees friend and I were talking about it. I mentioned that Mattingly was one the best Yankees of his time..

    he said, “yeah, that wasn’t hard”.


    ps I think he belongs on the ballot though. He’s at least that good.

    Yes I’m shouting Teddy ballgame. I’m sure you either mis-typed the box that said “Why is he on the ballot”? or you were just trying to push one of my many buttons.
    Although he probably falls short of Cooperstown he definitely deserves to be on the ballot for three or four of the best years a hitter had in the 80’s period!!
    Hall of the Very Good for sure!
    Happy New Year!

  3. i FINALLY got CLUKE to comment!!!

  4. A .307 Average and 9 gold gloves aren’t worthy of Copperstown? He should be in just for his defense.

  5. how many rings does donnie ballgame have???

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