MLB Network’s original series of documentaries returns next week with MLB Network Presents: Billy, an in-depth profile of the complicated, brilliant and combative manager Billy Martin. Narrated by award-winning actor John Turturro, who portrayed Martin in the 2007 mini-series “The Bronx is Burning,” Billy premieres on Thursday, December 14 at 8:00 p.m. ET, marking the 30th installment of the MLB Network Presents series. A clip from the film is available to view here.
Following the 40th anniversary of Martin’s 1977 World Series championship as manager of the New York Yankees, Billy adds new details and dimension to Martin’s life, giving insight into what contributed to his success, turmoil and heartbreak both on and off the field. Through new interviews with those closest to Martin, including his son, Billy Jr., his former wife Gretchen Martin Creswell, his widow Jill Martin, his former agent Eddie Sapir, and David Mantle, son of Hall of Famer and Martin’s close friend and teammate Mickey Mantle, Billy examines what made Martin equally captivating, charming and explosive. The documentary also reveals details from the car accident that killed Martin on Christmas Day in 1989, including a retracing of the route that Martin traveled home before crashing at the foot of his own driveway.
Billy features several interviews with those who played and managed with, for and against Martin throughout his 11-year playing career and his 16-year career as a manager, including Hall of Famers Rod Carew, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson and Tony La Russa, plus Tom Grieve, Ron Guidry, Don Mattingly, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Bobby Richardson and Buck Showalter. Many discuss how despite his baseball acumen and his ability to turn around every team he managed in worst-to-first fashion, Martin found himself in trouble throughout his life, including with his own players, in his relationship with owner George Steinbrenner during his five stints as manager of the Yankees, and through a string of alcohol-fueled controversies.
While his life predated the advent of digital and social media, Martin was one of the most documented figures in sports throughout his career, and Billy also features commentary from journalists who covered – and sometimes clashed with – Martin, including Randy Galloway, Ray Hagar, Henry Hecht, Moss Klein and Martin biographer Bill Pennington.