Dodgers manager Don Mattingly first met Orioles manager Buck Showalter 22 years ago as 20-year-old minor leaguer. They were teammates for the Yankees’ Double-A team in Nashville.
Tonight, they will manage against each other for the first time in the opener of this weekend’s interleague series at Camden Yards.
Mattingly said he noticed Showalter’s ability to gauge talent once Showalter became a coach and eventually managed Mattingly with the Yankees from 1993-95.
“You really see it as a manager,” Mattingly said. “You see the organization. Just how detailed he was. I think that was really impressive and kind of the view he had of talent. … He always knew who could play and who couldn’t. He always knew how you were supposed to play and that was always kind of impressive, just the respect you get for a guy over time and what you realize his ability. As a player, you’re just going. When you’re in the minor leagues, you don’t notice everbody else. You’re on your path and you’re trying to get hit and get better and all that. You’re playing with blinders on.”
Mattingly -- who retired after the 1995 season while Showalter left the Yankees at the same time -- credited his old manager with building the foundation of the Yankees’ dynasty teams that followed.
“I told people before, I think he was really the guy who turned things around over there,” Mattingly said. “I know Joe [Torre] gets a lot of credit, but Buck really was the guy who turned things around, him and [GM Gene Michael]. They did a good job of knowing who was coming up. He would talk about [Derek] Jeter and [Jorge] Posada and [Andy] Pettitte and Mariano [Rivera] and these guys and he was right on on all of them. At that time, they were all in the minor leagues and a yet you’re listening.
“Those guys were the group I remember him saying, these guys are coming and I just give him a lot of credit for seeing that and changing the whole attitude,” Mattingly said. “The guys he brought in, he brought in attitude guys, we brought in Spike Owen, guys you wouldn’t think about. Guys who played the game right: Mike Gallego. Then we get [Paul] O’Neill, then [Wade Boggs] and Jim Abbott, and then 'Black' Jack McDowell, guys who went about it the right way and he changed the whole attitude. That’s where we were at the whole time. We needed attitude. The whole tone changed around our club and he did that.”