Remembering Willie Randolph … as a New York Yankee


Some, probably several, star athletes should not have gone on to become head coaches/managers in their respective sports. Magic Johnson of the Lakers and Islanders legend Bryan Trottier, who went on to coach the rival Rangers, come immediately to mind.

Willie Randolph of the Yankees also makes the unfortunate list. Despite having much more success than that duo in his first two seasons as manager of the New York Mets, guiding the club to 83 and 97 wins, it is FAR more enjoyable to recall him as an ex-Yankee great.

That’s partly because of the Mets epic collapse in 2007 when they blew a seven-game lead to the Phillies with just 17 contests remaining. The Mets, who either should have dismissed Randolph immediately after the season for a fresh start, or let him complete 2008 despite the team’s mediocre play (34-35), did neither, firing him after a late-night win in Los Angeles.

It was an undignified way to end the stint of a very dignified man in Randolph. Willie wasn’t a great manager and he clearly had lost that group, but he certainly deserved better. That’s why I choose to mostly ignore Randolph’s days in the Mets dugout and remember him as a player and then coach for the Yanks.

It’s easy to do, as Randolph earned the rare honor of serving as team captain in the late 80’s and racked up six All Star selections along with six total World Series titles as a Yankee coach and player. Randolph racked up 2,210 hits, including over 400 extra-base hits, with 271 stolen bases.

The superb second baseman, now a third base coach with the Orioles, had a remarkable eye at the plate in racking up 1,243 walks to just 675 strikeouts. In 1987, in fact, Randolph led the AL in whiffing just once every 18 at-bats. So while Randolph went on to play for the Dodgers, A’s Brewers and yes … the Mets, it’s very easy to recall him only as a New York Yankees great.

Which I “Willie” do.