We are now just 18 weeks away from the 2013 South Atlantic League All-Star Game at First Energy Park, and we’ll continue to profile one former SAL All-Star each week leading up to the game (previously). This week’s profile of a former South Atlantic League All-Star is of Don Mattingly.
Mattingly broke into professional baseball when the New York Yankees selected him in the 19th round of the 1979 draft. The Evansville, Indiana native played in 53 games and hit a remarkable .349 with 15 extra-base hits, and 31 RBI for the Oneonta Yankees of the New York-Penn League.
In 1980, Mattingly played in 133 games and went start-to-finish with the Greensboro Hornets of the South Atlantic League. He spent most of his time in the outfield (112 games) rather than at first base, where he played in the majors. The southpaw was tabbed a midseason all-star and hit an astounding .358 with nine home runs and 105 RBI over the course of the season. Mattingly also had 32 doubles, drew 59 walks, and only struck out 33 times in 569 plate appearances.
“Donnie Baseball” spent parts of the next three seasons in the minors and never hit below .300 in his time before “The Show”. Mattingly made his MLB debut with the Yankees in September of 1982 and by May of 1983 he was there for good. He went on to complete a 14-year, career with the Yankees and earned an AL MVP award, nine gold gloves, and six All-Star selections. In 2011, Mattingly took over as the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and remains at the helm entering the 2013 season.