Billy battled opponents, himself
"When you start talking about firing him as manager of the New York Yankees, you might as well stab him with a knife," says former Cy Young Award winner Sparky Lyle on ESPN Classic's SportsCentury.
Arrogant and abrasive, Billy Martin was at his best under pressure - on the field. But in the clubhouse or in a bar, he became baseball's poster boy for self-destruction.
A .257-hitting second baseman for 11 seasons,
Late in the 1947 season, Martin joined the Oakland Oaks and played for the first time under Stengel, the team's manager who was to become his chief advocate and a surrogate for the father he never had. Stengel became the Yankees manager in 1949 and the next year brought Martin to New York, where he hit .250 in 34 games. While Martin's reputation for brashness preceded him, Joe DiMaggio befriended him.
In 1951, DiMaggio retired, but Mantle had arrived, and the stage was set for the successes and tempestuousness of Martin's career with the Yankees. His best season was 1953 when he batted .257 and knocked in 75 runs,