MLB Network Presents: Billy (Martin)

There were so many things I didn’t know about Billy Martin. When I look at the old photos of him, he looks like a guy who was born to be the face of Bronx baseball. But I had no idea that he managed the Texas Rangers. I had no idea that he slugged a reporter and a Marshmallow salesman. I had no idea that he was fired by George Steinbrenner in 1978 and then named that he would return for the 1980 season at Old Timer’s Day in New York just five days after being fired.

And then he was fired before that supposed return ever happened because he returned earlier than 1980.

The guy had anger problems, a road girlfriend, an in-town girlfriend/wife, problems with the IRS, problems with alcohol. He bumped umpires, went to war with superstar players.

I’m not sure that MLB Network has ever had a better feature that I enjoyed more.

The dude won absolutely everywhere he went. His turnaround jobs were remarkable as they were inevitable. And along the way, Martin was always in self-destruct mode at some point. It’s incredible that he was fired by George Steinbrenner three four FIVE different times. It’s unfathomable that he was fired from the Texas Rangers over which song would be played during the seventh inning stretch.

One of the best parts of the film was when Tony La Russa talked about Billy promising his secret double-steal plays as long as La Russa promised to hang out late with him. And when La Russa made it until two in the morning, Martin gave up some of his genius secrets. It became apparent during the show that the guy had one of the greatest baseball minds ever; ahead of his time. He also probably had the best instincts to ever grace the game.

It’s unbelievable to hear about the fight he had with Ed Whitson (a guy I once had an autographed baseball card of) after being hired a fourth time.

It went into the end of his life and auto crash on Christmas day in great detail. This was by far the best baseball documentary that MLB Network has ever produced.