You’ve got to be a ballplayer’s ballplayer to actually have the word “baseball” attached to your nickname. When it comes to the phrase “born to play the game,” it’s hard to beat “Donnie Baseball.” Despite never having competed in a World Series or being in the Hall of Fame, he’s extraordinarily popular. A brilliant bright spot during a time in which the New York Yankees struggled to reach .500 most years, he was a favorite of collectors then and still today, Don Mattingly rookie cards are in demand.
Mattingly managed to record 2,153 hits and a career .307 batting average while under the national microscope during his 14 years with the Yanks. He was steady, consistent and productive and his name brings back great memories for collectors who loved seeing his cards emerge from packs in the 1980s.
Mattingly collected some serious hardware during his career as a player. He was the 1985 American League MVP and earned nine Gold Gloves at first base. A Society for American Baseball Research article put it in perspective: “His .9959 percentage means that every 1,000 times the ball came his way, he made only four errors.”
He was the captain of the Yankees from 1991-1995 and his number #23 was retired by the team after his career ended.
His plaque in Monument Park reads, “A humble man of grace and dignity, a captain who led by example, proud of the pinstripe tradition and dedicated to the pursuit of excellence, a Yankee forever.”
Growing Up Mattingly
Mattingly was a baseball star in his hometown of Evansville, Indiana, leading Reitz Memorial High School to 59 straight victories and a state baseball title in 1978. He was a multi-sport athlete much like many of the professional peers of his day. He was the starting quarterback for his high school football team but his heart was certainly set on baseball. Mattingly was a 19th round selection by the New York Yankees in 1979, receiving a $23,000 signing bonus.
His trek in the minor leagues was relatively quick with stops in Nashville and Columbus before joining the Yankees. Wherever he went, he always hit for average. It helped him earn another nickname, “The Hit Man.” The Yankees called him up for his first taste of the big leagues on September 8, 1982.
The Scoop On Mattingly Rookie Cards