Special Feature on Don Mattingly’s 1984 Batting Title – June Issue
April 11, 2014 – In early March, I spent a morning with former Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly in Glendale, Arizona. I interviewed Mattingly about his historic 1984 campaign for a feature that will be published in the June Issue of Yankees Magazine.
Thirty years ago, Mattingly edged out teammate Dave Winfield for the American League batting title on the last day of the regular season.
In my conversation with Mattingly, he spoke about the first time he realized that he and Winfield were atop the batting charts in 1984.
“At some time in June, Dave and I were asked to pose for a Sports Illustrated photo together,” said Mattingly, who is the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. “I didn’t think about it as a serious competition. We were on the same team, and we were trying to win games. I wasn’t really competing with Dave, and I didn’t feel any pressure. Dave had the tough job. He was the older veteran who had a big contract and I was just a young kid. I felt as if anything I accomplished beyond hitting .300 was gravy.”
Mattingly also spoke about the final game of the ’84 season. In that game, Mattingly thrilled the Yankee Stadium crowd by going 4-for-5. In his first at-bat, Donnie Baseball got things going with a bloop single.
“I felt good after I got that first hit,” Mattingly said from the Dodgers’ spring training complex. “After that, I hit two first-pitch doubles. I never used to swing at the first pitch but I had a feeling that the they were going to throw me strikes right away that afternoon. I just wanted to take advantage of that, and I was able to do that.”
At the end of the interview, Mattingly shared his memories of the moment when the batting title became a reality.
“After my fourth hit of the game, Dave hit a ground ball,” Mattingly said. “They threw me out at second base. I went back to the dugout, and the fans quickly called me out to do a curtain call. Without planning it, I went over to first base, and Dave and I tipped our caps together. When I look back on my career, that moment stands out. Dave and I have been friends for a long time, and that was something neither of us will ever forget.”
–Alfred Santasiere III