Second basemen Billy Martin and Jackie Robinson squared off in four World Series (1952-53; 1955-56), with each man enjoying his share of memorable highlights in the field, on the bases, and at the dish during October. True to character, the fiery Martin viewed these match-ups with the National League’s top second sacker as deadly serious. In his biography, Martin (with Peter Golenbock) boasted: “[A]lways I outhit, and always I outplayed [Robinson] in every Series we played in.”
True to his word, Martin’s assertion is supported by the statistics: In 38 World Series contests, Robinson – a career .311 hitter – managed a paltry .234/.335/.345 slash-line with only two home runs and 12 RBI in 160 plate appearances. Conversely, Martin, a career .257 hitter, compiled an impressive .333/.371/.566 slash-line with five homers and 19 ribbies in 105 plate appearances during Fall Classics.
Far from being enemies, Martin – who was enamored with the running game during his managerial career (aka “Billy Ball”) – once credited Robinson, who swiped six bags in World Series play, with opening his eyes to the importance of aggressive baserunning, calling him one of “the smartest” and “most daring” baserunners of his generation. Martin infamously had many faults – on and off the field – but expressed high praise for those who shared his passion for winning and gave their all on the field.
▪️”It kills me to lose. If I’m a troublemaker, and I don’t think that my temper makes me one, then it’s because I can’t stand losing. That’s the way I am about winning, all I ever wanted to do was finish first.” — Jackie Robinson
▪️”If liking a kid [Martin] who will never let you down in the clutch is favoritism, then I plead guilty.” — Casey Stengel
▪️”There’s nothing greater in the world than when somebody on the team does something good, and everybody gathers around to pat him on the back.” — Billy Martin
ℹ️Sources: https://www.baseball-reference.com + https://www.baseball-almanac.com + https://baseballhall.org + https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov