In April 2013, as the Orioles were getting ready to face the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first time in Buck Showalter’s managerial tenure, he was asked about opposing Don Mattingly for the first time.
Mattingly was the first of Showalter’s players to ascend to a managing job, and he’s the second in the past three weeks to lose his.
While Showalter happily spoke about his relationship with Matt Williams when asked, he has a longer and deeper one with Mattingly.
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Mattingly didn’t only play for Showalter with the Yankees, he was a minor league teammate. After Showalter watched Mattingly in Nashville in 1981, the perspective changed the Orioles manager’s professional life.
“He helped my career a lot [because] I knew I wasn't going to be a left fielder or first baseman for the New York Yankees,” Showalter said.
Now, Mattingly and the Dodgers have parted ways, and he’s likely to be a man in demand.
Mattingly had five straight winning seasons in Los Angeles, the first Dodgers manager to accomplish that since Tom Lasorda more than 30 years ago. He won three straight NL West titles, and perhaps he’ll be a candidate for the Nationals open job.
By the way, one of Showalter’s former players is still a manager. Milwaukee’s Craig Counsel played for him in Arizona.
If Mattingly is hired by the Nationals, that would put an interesting test to his friendship with Showalter.
It’s one thing to play three games against a team every three years, but to go against each other every year in the same geographic area?
It’s fun to think about.
Showalter put friendship aside for a little while in 2013, and maybe he does it again.
After speaking at length about his admiration for Mattingly, Showalter paused, knowing they’d have to face each other.
“I could keep going. So, I like him. I’m not going to like him for three days.”
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