Friday, March 12, 2010
Awesome night card, pt. 75
Bobby Mattick, or "Bob" as Fleer liked to call him, wasn't really a manager kind of guy. Oh sure, he managed some in the minor leagues. But he was more of a behind-the-scenes person.
Organizations coveted his ability to evalute player talent, and he worked for a number of teams as a scout or in a player development capacity.
But after three straight seasons at the bottom of the American League East, the fledgling and foundering Blue Jays needed a change. So the Blue Jays named Mattick, their director of player development, as the manager for 1980, replacing Toronto's first-ever manager Roy Hartsfield.
Mattick was 64 at the time, the oldest rookie manager to start a season in baseball history.
The Blue Jays improved slightly in 1980, but still lost 95 games. The following season, strike-shortened 1981, they lost 32 more than they won and Mattick was done. The Jays brought in Bobby Cox the next year, a guy who seemed destined to be a manager. Mattick went back behind the scenes and help find players that led to the Jays' early '90s glory years.
The reason I bring all this up is that when I look at this card, I totally get the feeling that Mattick has no idea what he's doing out there. A random guy with a camera came up to him, said he was taking pictures for some new bubble gum card company, told him to get in a genuflect pose -- because don't you know managers genuflect all the time -- and snapped his picture while the Yankee Stadium scoreboard glistened in the New York night.
Mattick was probably used to sitting in the stands or behind a desk, wearing a polo shirt or a tie and sport coat. But for two seasons, he was a guy in powder blue jammies and a two-tone cap.
As someone who is in a job that doesn't really resemble the job he once had, I totally understand. People ask me to do something I've never had to do before, and I wonder if it is in the job description. One day I'll be asked to wear powder blue jammies to work.
Who am I? Why am I here? I get the feeling that was Mattick.
Maybe it really wasn't him. But that's who Fleer says he was.