Billy Martin: The Man, the Myth, the Manager

With major league ballplayers now busy at spring training, here are two superlative baseball videos to help get diamond diehards in shape for the long season ahead.

Of the pair, Billy Martin is ideal for the serious student of the game, as it is built around an exclusive interview, Martin’s last before he was killed in a car accident on Christmas Day, 1989, for a projected video on the Twins-Rangers-Tigers-A’s-Yankees skipper’s approach to managing. The producers have fashioned a full Martin retrospective by adding playing-career highlights and reflections by such colleagues as Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Rod Carew, Graig Nettles, and Rickey Henderson (the latter weeping unabashedly as he recalls hearing of Martin’s death).

While this material adequately fleshes out the portrait, it’s Martin’s interview that makes the video exceptional. Sometimes sentimental, sometimes acerbic, always cogent and insightful, Martin’s impassioned thoughts on the game, the players, and the coaches show us why he was such a successful — and controversial — field leader.

Nolan Ryan: Feel the Heat is a fan’s delight, an adoring tribute to the Texas Rangers’ popular, Cooperstown-bound pitcher that has enough substance for the most serious students of baseball. There are the expected clips of Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout, his sixth no-hitter, and his 300th victory, but also, occasionally, the unexpected — such as a Yale physics professor explaining how Ryan’s heater rises as it zips from mound to plate, and a camera mounted at home to dramatize the batter’s unnerving experience. There’s also Nolan-at-home footage and Nolan-speaks commentary, confirming that — unlike the driven Martin, whose life was consumed by the game — Ryan is an ordinary Joe with a magical arm and the smarts to know how to use it.

Billy Martin: The Man, the Myth, the Manager
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