December 25, 2010 – It has been 21 years since former Minnesota Twins player, coach and manager Billy Martin died in an automobile accident on Christmas Day 1989 near Binghamton, New York. Martin, the fiery, feisty and frequently combative player and baseball manager was 61 years old when he died.
According to the sheriff’s office in Broome County, Billy Martin was a passenger in a pickup truck driven by William Reedy, 53, a longtime friend of Martin from Detroit. The accident occurred at 5:45 P.M. near Martin’s home. The Associated Press quoted witnesses as having said the pickup truck skidded off the icy Potter Hill Road in Fenton, continued 300 feet down an embankment and stopped at the foot of Martin’s driveway. Martin was taken to Wilson Memorial Hospital in Johnson City, N.Y., where efforts to revive him failed, said Michael Doll, a hospital spokesman. Doll said that Alfred Manual “Billy” Martin, Jr., born on May 16, 1928, was pronounced dead at 6:56 P.M. of severe internal injuries and possible head injuries. The authorities said neither Martin nor Reedy was wearing a seat belt. William Reedy passed away from pancreatic cancer in July of 2009 at the age of 72.
Billy Martin played for the New York Yankees from 1950-1957 (where he made his only all-star appearance in 1956), the Kansas City A’s in 1957, The Detroit Tigers in 1958, the Cleveland Indians in 1959, The Cincinnati Reds in 1960 and the Milwaukee Braves early in 1961 before being traded to the Minnesota Twins on June 1, 1961 where he finished out the 1961 season appearing in 108 games. His playing career ended when the Twins released him prior to the 1962 season. Billy played 2B, SS, or 3B and participated in a total of 1.021 games major league games while hitting for a .257 average in 3,419 at bats. Although Billy liked his teams to run when he was managing, he himself only stole 34 bases while getting thrown out 29 times. Martin did hit 64 home runs while knocking in 333 during his 11 big league seasons.
Martin spent eight years (962-1969) in the Minnesota organization after his retirement as an active player. Billy served as a scout from 1962-1964 before becoming the Twins third-base coach from 1965 through mid-June 1968, before taking over as manager of their AAA affiliate, the Denver Bears for the last half of the 1968 campaign. He succeeded Cal Ermer as the Twins skipper following the ’68 season. In 1969, Martin’s only season as manager of the Twins, he won a division championship but lost the ALCS to the Orioles in 3 a three game sweep. He was fired after the season by owner Calvin Griffith and his firing caused a fire-storm of protest from Twins fans all over Twins territory for a number of years.
Billy Martin went on to manage the Detroit Tigers from 1971-1973, the Texas Rangers from 1973–1975, the New York Yankees from 1975-1978, and 1979, the Oakland A’s from 1980-1982, and then the New York Yankees again from 1983, 1985, and 1988. In his 16 years as a manager, Billy Martin finished with a 1,253-1,013 (.553) won-loss mark and led his teams to 2 pennants and 1 World Series championship.
Services for Billy Martin were held at St Patrick’s Cathedral before he was laid to rest at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York. His grave is located about 150 feet from the grave of Babe Ruth.
Here a couple of short youTube video’s that you might enjoy watching: