Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2003-11-12 13:15
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Roy White came to the Yankees during their CBS days, when the great dynasty in the Bronx had finally crumbled. In the mid 1960s, the Yankees farm system was all but depleted, but White was one of the few bright spots, along with Thurman Munson, Bobby Murcer and Stan Bahnsen to come up through the system. White lasted into the Bronx Zoo days of George, Billy and Reggie before he finished his career in Japan.

Here is White talking about how Billy Martin's aggresive managerial style shook up the Yankees in the mid-'70s (from Dick Lally's book, "Bombers":)

When Billy came on board, everything was put on the table. There was nothing laid-back about him. He was on the attack all the time. You could just feel it. He was always probing, trying to find the other team's weakness, and he wanted us to do the same. And he was so unorthodox, you never knew what to expect. He wanted everyone to run, not just steal bases but challenge the other team's outfielders by taking the extra base. He put the opposing team on edge and kept them there.

One game, I was on second and Pinella was hitting. Billy gave Lou the bunt sign, and Lou fouled the ball off as I broke for third. I went back to second and somehow missed the next sign. Now, in that siutation, you would expect Lou to bunt again. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred that is the logical play, and I assumed Lou would put down another bunt. But this is Billy in the dugout, so forget what the book says. Billy calls for the hit-and-run. Nobody does that! Lou singled, but because I had missed the sign, I didn't score.

After the inning, Billy asked if I had missed the sign and I admitted that I had. He told me to stay awake out there or it would cost me money the next time. I knew from that day on that we had to keep on our toes because we had a manager who was capable of the unexpected. Having a manager like that drives a team. You don't want to miss a sign and embarass yourself by messing up an inning. You also don't want to get fined. Billy was fiery and samrt. He made us fiery and smart.

White coached for Billy Martin in 1983, and served as hitting coach for Yogi Berra in 1984 and Lou Pinella in '86. White, has been the hitting coach for the A's triple A team for the past five seasons. Originally an infielder who made the transition to the outfield, White may help young Soriano learn the ropes in the outfield too:

"The kind of athlete he is, I don't think he'd have too much of a problem, with his speed, his natural instincts," White said. "It's just a matter of going out there, getting the experience, seeing balls off the bat.

"It wouldn't be any tough feat to turn him into an outfielder."

That is if Soriano is still around come spring...

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