Looking back on Don Mattingly’s 1985 MVP season

For the last 11 years, Don Mattingly has been a successful National League manager with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2011-2015) and Miami Marlins (2016-2021), earning Manager of the Year votes six times over that span and winning the award in 2020.

But before that, he was one of the most beloved New York Yankees of all time, spending 14 seasons in the Bronx and earning six All-Star selections and nine Gold Glove Awards.

Among his many accolades in pinstripes, “Donnie Baseball” earned his first and only American League MVP Award on this day in 1985 after a sensational season in the Bronx.

In just his second full big-league season, Mattingly led the Majors at age 24 with 48 doubles, 145 RBI, 86 extra-base hits and 370 total bases. He also added 35 homers and posted a slash line of .324/.371/.567 over 159 games.

''I never dreamed of putting those kinds of numbers up,'' Mattingly told Murray Chass of the New York Times. ''There's no way you can say I'm going to get 140 or 150 RBI and over 30 homers.''

Also receiving MVP votes for the Yankees that year were Rickey Henderson (third), Dave Winfield (12th) and Ron Guidry (15th), while the NL winner, Willie McGee, was a former teammate of Mattingly’s in the Yankees' Minor Leagues.

For his league-leading efforts in 1985, Mattingly earned $455,000 in salary with a $50,000 bonus for bringing home the MVP.

In total, 13 different Yankees have claimed MVP honors over the years, with six multi-year winners and 22 total MVP seasons in franchise history. Mattingly became the 12th Yankee to earn the league’s top honor and the only other Yankees first baseman after Lou Gehrig.

The “Hitman” remains a fan-favorite to this day and was named Yankees captain in 1991, an honor bestowed to only 15 men in history.