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What it’s like to watch the life, death of Billy Martin — with his son.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — OK, so maybe it wasn’t quite like watching “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” with Mark Hamill. But this was more emotional. On Sunday night, here at the Winter Meetings, I attended a screening of “MLB Network Presents: Billy,” a documentary on the late Billy Martin. Among the small audience was...
Time: 12:49     Date: 13.12.2017
Last US Sport News: What it’s like to watch the life, death of Billy Martin — with his son. NY Post 24 - US News

On Sunday night, here at the Winter Meetings, I attended a screening of “MLB Network Presents: Billy,” a documentary on the late Billy Martin. Among the small audience was Billy Martin Jr., the son of the legendary player and manager who himself has been involved in the game, most prominently as an agent, for most of his adult life.

Martin Jr. has a prominent role in the production, which will debut Thursday night at 8 p.m. During the screening, we all chuckled at a photo of him as a batboy, kneeling next to his dad, with the 1969 Twins. The room turned silent as the film went into impressive detail about the circumstances surrounding Martin’s Dec. 25, 1989, death in a car accident in upstate New York, with Martin’s widow, Jill, still possessing the windshield of the pickup truck that crashed and killed her husband. We even see an interview with the bartender who served Martin and his friend Bill Reedy, who is believed to have been the driver for the crash.

Afterward, Martin Jr. said that he entered the room nervous primarily about how he would come off. He left satisfied about that and the documentary as a whole.

Just going through his many stops as manager, and appreciating how he elevated every team he managed until he experienced mixed results in his multiple returns to the Yankees, you contemplate whether he should be in the Hall of Fame. If only he had lasted longer. Martin managed 2,267 games, placing him 45th all time, and his winning percentage of .553 ranks 32nd. Then again, you could argue that Martin’s self-destructive tendencies (his alcoholism and temper) just couldn’t be extricated from the intensity and competitiveness that made him so successful.

The scene at Billy Martin’s funeral, with Jill Martin and Billy Jr. (second from left).AP

Martin Jr. said he had planned to visit his dad on his farm near Binghamton, where he was returning home when he died, on Dec. 26, 1989. He hadn’t been there yet, as he and his father rode some turbulent times themselves. Instead, Martin Jr. traveled from Texas, where he still lives, to New York for a funeral.

He enjoys talking about his father and seeing him get his due as a great manager, and he understands the “warts and all” perspective that folks take to Martin’s life. Whether you know plenty about Martin and want to learn more or don’t know much and want to appreciate the intrigue Martin still holds nearly 28 years after his passing, I’m betting you’ll find this documentary to be worth your time. The subject’s son agrees.

— This week’s Pop Quiz question came from Mickey Goldberg of Trumbull, Conn.: He broadcasted a Yankees playoff series for ABC, and he appeared as a reporter in “Rocky II.” Name him.

— If you’re old like me and have fond memories of baseball in the ’70s, I recommend “1970s All-Star Baseball: A History of the Decade’s All-Star Games,” by Joe Gersbeck. It’s a year-by-year account of the Midsummer Classics of that decade (dominated by the National League, as you recall) and features an all-decade team by individual season that I really enjoyed.

— Your Pop Quiz answer is Brent Musburger. If you have a tidbit that connects baseball with popular culture, please send it to me at [email protected]

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Business

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Sport

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