The Tragic Final Days of Yankees’ Legend Martin in Upstate NY
He was hired, and he was fired. He was cheered, and he was booed. He was beloved, and he was vilified.
He was Billy Martin, and hate him or love him, he is a legendary figure in the lore of the New York Yankees. He played for the team in the 1950s, and managed them both in the 1970s, and 1980s. He was hired and fired multiple times by George Steinbrenner, but in the process, managed to manage over 2,500 MLB games.
After his career was over, he relocated to Upstate New York, where he spent his final years. It was where the tragedy that led to his untimely death occurred, as well.
Billy Martin's Tumultuous Career with the New York Yankees
A native of Berkeley, California, Martin was first noticed by future New York Yankees' manager, Casey Stengel. Stengel was impressed with Martin's skill, and kept an eye on him as Martin worked his way through the minor leagues.
When Stengel left the organization for the Yankees, Martin would soon follow, via a trade between them and the Oakland Oaks. Martin would play a utility role with the team in parts of years from 1950 through 1957, and would become a journeyman after that, with the last year of his playing career coming in 1961.
After stints managing the Twins, Tigers and Rangers, Martin was hired by the Yankees to manage the team from 1975 through 1978. He took the team to a World Series victory in 1977, but was constantly embroiled in battles behind the scenes with owner George Steinbrenner, as well as star outfielder Reggie Jackson.
Martin would resign midway through the 1978 season, get re-hired for the 1979 season, but would be fired after the season after getting into a fight. He would get hired again in 1983 under a "long-term" contract, and would manage in three separate seasons in the 80's, in 1983, 1985 and 1988.
Martin was reportedly in consideration to start his sixth tenure as manager of the Yankees, when tragedy struck.
Martin Spends Final Years in Broome County, New York
Martin was living in Upstate New York in 1989, in a town called Port Crane, located in Broome County. Martin and his friend, Billy Reedy, were driving home after being at a bar, when the car ran off the road into a drainage ditch. Reedy sustained significant injuries, but survived the crash. Martin, riding in the passenger's seat, wasn't as lucky.
It was Christmas, December 25, 1989, and Billy Martin had passed away at the age of just 61.
The New York baseball world mourned the loss of Billy Martin. He was interred at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York, 150 feet from Babe Ruth. His No. 1 had already been retired at Yankee Stadium in 1986, so, no one ever wore it from that year on.
Though his life ended prematurely while living in Upstate New York, he used the time in Upstate to get away from some of the chaos that followed him in the big city. Those in Broome County and the neighboring area should still feel lucky that their home played a small part in the later years of the late Yankees' legend.