Battling Billy Martin
Here is my story that aired last night on KABC 790 as part of the Lasorda at His Best series presented by Skechers:
When I was with the Kansas City Athletics we were playing the Yankees, and Tom Sturdivant was pitching a shutout against us. In the seventh inning Suitcase Simpson hits a home run for us, and Enos Slaughter hits a home run, so now it’s 5-2. He was so mad he decked a couple of our hitters.
Lou Boudreau, our manager, was mad. He was walking up and down the dugout holler, “Everybody is afraid of the Yankees!”
“Hey Skip,” I said. “Don’t say everybody is scared of the Yankees. That organization I just came from, the Dodgers, we don’t fear anybody. We respect them, but we don’t fear them.”
“You mean that?” he asked.
“Go down to the pen and warm up,” he told me.
I warm up and come out to pitch the top of the eighth inning. Joe Collins was the hitter, and I dump him twice. Sturdivant hits and I dump him twice. Billy Martin comes up, and I dump him twice too and strike him out to end the inning.
When I go out to pitch the top of the ninth inning Hank Bauer is the hitter. I dump him twice and strike him out, and as they are throwing the ball around the infield Billy Martin is up on top of the dugout steps creaming at me.
“I’ll get you before the year is out!”
“You wait. I’ll get you Lasorda!”
“Come on out now banana nose! You don’t have to wait! Let’s go right now,” I hollered back.
He came out of the dugout. We had a little battle and it was broken up. When we went to New York I started a game against the Yankees. Billy Martin saw me and told me that we shouldn’t fight each other because the Italians should stick together.
I told him that when a man calls me what he called me I don’t ask him his nationality. Anyway, we became the best of friends until the day he died.