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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Billy Martin & His Fisticuff Fancies: The Rapsheet



At long last, I have settled on a name for my fantasy baseball team: "Billy's Brawlers," after Billy Martin, the fiesty, Tasmanian Devil who managed the team in the pennant winning year of 1969. The choice seemed only right, as my entry is in the 14 team Twins League. As it turns out, the name is more fitting than I knew.

 Before he was the man in charge, he had played a rangeless second base with the club in 1961, their inaugural year. His playing career was about over. Yet, most Twins fans may recall him for his pugilistic role in applying extra heavy shadow to pitcher (below) Dave Boswell's eye outside a Detroit nightclub that '69 season, his only one as the team's skipper.

What's weird about that one was the involvement of big Bob Allison, who got a shiner of his own as payback for trying to be the peacemaker between Billy and Boswell outside the famous Lindell A.C.

Makeup most decidedly not by Covergirl.

Of course, there's way, way more to the story for old Billy than just that episode.  According to the evidence at hand, you have to conclude that fightin' came as naturally to Martin as did using the family plumbing and tooth brushing for others. In this context, "Billy Ball" might be referring to our subject's clenched fists. Before he joined the Twins, this was fresh in the minds of baseball fans: the August, 1960 on-field fight between Martin and Jim Brewer, Cubs rookie.

Check the inset box of dates, and scan down to the 1960 period in Billy's punch-happy universe. The following set of pictures accompanying come from the "Sports Review" 1961 baseball preseason publication.  Far from trashing the future Twins fan favorite, the article seemed to convey a "That crazy Martin-what a hot-blooded prankster!" attitude. Not too many metrosexuals around back then...a man's world, bucko.
If you're catching on to a certain pattern with this blog
post, you're probably right!

Noted bad-arse Frank Thomas droppin' a vigorous
pat-down on Billy, closely inspecting the Wrigley Field turf.

There were other incidents (surprise!) captured for posterity by alert photgraphers during Martin's career:

Don't be shy now, Bill, join the tussle!

Now, we could get into all the other subsequent tiffs in his rapsheet, i.e., punching out the Minnesota marshmallow salesman in an elevator, confronting Reggie Jackson in the dugout in 1977, and so on, and so forth, but it all adds up to one thing: Billy liked to mix it up from time to time!

As our old friend Herb used to say...
Photos of Billy brawls came from this 1961 mag.
"...And the count rides along...." - TT

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