Alfred Manuel Martin Jr.
Martin with the Yankees in 1954
(May 16, 1928 – December 25, 1989), commonly called "Billy
", was an American Major League Baseball second baseman
who, in addition to leading other teams, was five times the manager of the New York Yankees
. First known as a scrappy infielder who made considerable contributions to the championship Yankee teams of the 1950s, he then built a reputation as a manager who would initially make bad teams good, before ultimately being fired amid dysfunction. In each of his stints with the Yankees he managed them to winning records before being fired by team owner George Steinbrenner
or resigning under fire, usually amid a well-publicized scandal such as Martin's involvement in an alcohol-fueled fight.
Martin was born in a working-class section of Berkeley, California
. His skill as a baseball player gave him a route out of his home town. Signed by the Pacific Coast League Oakland Oaks
, Martin learned much from Casey Stengel
, the man who would manage him both in Oakland and in New York, and enjoyed a close relationship with him. Martin's spectacular catch of a wind-blown Jackie Robinson
popup late in Game Seven of the 1952 World Series
saved that series for the Yankees, and he was the hitting star of the 1953 World Series
, earning the Most Valuable Player award in the Yankee victory. He missed most of two seasons, 1954 and 1955, after being drafted into the Army
, and his abilities never fully returned; the Yankees traded him after a brawl at the Copacabana club
in New York during the 1957 season. Martin bitterly resented being traded, and did not speak to Stengel for years, a time during which Martin completed his playing career, appearing with a series of also-ran baseball teams. (Full article...