During late January, 1990, Yankees’ principal owner George Steinbrenner pledged that he would communicate more with the players, expressed upset at the salaries other owners were paying players, and guaranteed that Bucky Dent would still be the Yankees’ manager at the end of the season. “Yes, I’ll tell you Bucky’s going to be my manager all year. Bucky’s one of my guys. He’s won everywhere he’s been. He’s very strong on loyalty. We’re going to keep this guy for a while. If they get off to a bad start or a great start and can’t hold it together, he’s still my manager.”
Mr. Steinbrenner Denied the Dick Williams Rumors
On February 1, Mr. Steinbrenner denied rumors that the Yankees were trying to sign former Oakland A’s manager Dick Williams as a special adviser. “There is nothing definitive between Dick Williams and the Yankees at this time. We have no deal and I’m not going to do anything to put pressure on Bucky Dent.” However, the Yankees’ Boss did say he and Williams had several conversations.
Mr. Steinbrenner Had Introduced Dick Williams as Yankees’ Manager in 1973
After guiding the A’s to their second consecutive World Championship in 1973, Williams, who had his fill of owner Charles Finley’s interference, resigned. Mr. Steinbrenner signed Williams to manage the Yankees, and even introduced him as Yankees’ manager at a new conference, but Finley claimed that Williams was tied to Oakland until the end of 1974 and asked for compensation. When Mr. Steinbrenner told Finley what he could do, league president Joe Cronin ruled that Williams could not manage the Yankees in 1974. Williams never did manage the Yankees.
The Major Leagues’ Worst Record
By June 1, the 1990 Yankees had a 17-27 record under Bucky Dent, which was the worst in the major leagues. Mr. Steinbrenner called for patience, but he was working behind the scenes. “I haven’t said a harsh word…but I can see what everybody else sees.” On June 6, Stump Merrill managed his first game for the Yankees. It was the Yankees’ eighteenth managerial change in eighteen seasons under Mr.Steinbrenner, who informed Bucky Dent by telephone that he was being relieved of his managerial duties.
Manager Stump Merrill
Stump Merrill, who replaced Dent, was a career minor league manager. He told the media that he didn’t mean to throw darts, but “…looks like they’re a listless club. I can tell you that’s not my style. We’re going to turn that around.” Of course, the Yankees were a terrible team, and Stump Merrill did no better than Bucky Dent. The Yankees finished in last place in the seven team Eastern Division, winning only 67 games and finished 7 games behind sixth place Milwaukee.
Virtually every player had a terrible season. Don Mattingly’s back problems hampered him so much that he hit only .256 with 5 home runs. Roberto Kelly led the team with a .285 batting average, and Jesse Barfield hit 25 home runs, while batting only .246 with 150 strikeouts. Lee Guetterman, who didn’t start a single game, led with 11 wins, while Tim Leary lost 19 games. It was not a pretty picture, and neither Bucky Dent nor Stump Merrill can be held responsible for the poor showing. To paraphrase Casey Stengel, they couldn’t have done it without the players Mr.Steinbrenner gave them.
Mr, Steinbrenner Believed What He Said
It is highly likely that when Mr. Steinbrenner guaranteed that Bucky Dent would be the Yankees at the end of the season, he really believed it. But circumstances change, which often result in people doing things that seem disingenuous. Individuals, especially those with power, have short memories and a great power to rationalize. Billy Joel expressed it best of all. ” … she never gives in. She just changes her mind.”
By JOSEPH DURSO (1990, January 26). Steinbrenner Promises A Kinder Season for Yanks. New York Times (1857-Current file),B13. Retrieved January 17, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005) database. (Document ID: 114524889).
Sports People. (1990, February 1). New York Times (1857-Current file),p. B14. Retrieved January 18, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005) database. (Document ID: 114527135).
Dave Anderson (1990, February 1). Strawberry And Dent’s Successors :Basketball Purdue Stuns Michigan On Wolverines’ Court. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. B13. Retrieved January 18, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005) database. (Document ID: 114527130).
By MICHAEL MARTINEZ (1990, June 1). Yankees Are Quiet, Maybe a Little Too Quiet :Yanks Are Quiet, a Little Too Quiet. New York Times
p. A23. Retrieved January 18, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005) database. (Document ID: 115077617).
By MICHAEL MARTINEZ Special to The New York Times (1990, June 7). 18 Years, 18 Times: Yanks Once Again Replace a Manager :Merrill Replaces Dent As Yankee Manager Baseball. New York Times
A1. Retrieved January 18, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2005) database. (Document ID: 114558731).
Billy Joel Lyrics
1990 Yankees at Baseball-Reference