A victim of circumstance, or bad luck? That’s what you have to ask yourself when reading the story of Don Mattingly. Throughout the history of sports, we’ve seen several players and coaches have tough luck in their respective sports. However, in my opinion, there is no figure in sports that has had worse luck than Don Mattingly. It seems his bad luck follows him wherever he goes.

I looked at the standings today and noticed the Dodgers are only one game under .500 and in third place. Although they’re out of the race for a playoff spot already, they haven’t had too bad of a season considering their situation as a franchise.

Since Mattingly has taken over as skipper, the Dodgers have run into all sorts of financial issues.  Sure the tragic events of the Dodgers had already been set in motion before Mattingly arrived, but it became uglier after Mattingly took the job with the Dodgers.

Owner Frank McCourt is going through a brutal and expensive divorce and financially, the entire organization is struggling to make payroll. Not to pile on top, but the team isn’t very good on the field as well. Coincidence that Mattingly is there while this organization nosedives? Maybe, but this isn’t the only case of bad luck following Mattingly.

Don Mattingly was a loyal, lifelong Yankee until the day he became a bench coach for former Dodger manager Joe Torre. Mattingly played for the Yankees for 14 seasons, none of which resulted in a championship.

Mattingly played for the Bombers in the 80s and early 90s, some of the worst years in the entire history of the Yankees. Playing on abysmal teams, Mattingly still managed to win an MVP, multiple gold gloves, batting titles and All-Star selections. Mattingly even said he would’ve traded all that for a World Series ring, something he has yet to achieve.


In 1994, the Yankees were easily the best team in the American League, and were certainly competing with the Montreal Expos for the best team in the majors. It looked as though Mattingly would have his first chance at a playoff berth and a trip to the World Series.  But with Mattingly’s luck, it never happened. A players’ strike cut the MLB season short, and the great Yankee season was abruptly ended.

It wasn’t until 1995 that Mattingly and the Yankees made it to the playoffs, Mattingly’s last year. With a bad back, it was bittersweet for Donnie baseball because he had no choice but to retire at the end of the year. After taking a 2-0 lead over the Mariners in the Division Series, the Yankees went on to lose the last three, further padding the bad luck history that plagued Mattingly and the Yankees.

After Mattingly retired following the 1995 season, the Yankees made another trip to the playoffs for the second year in a row. This time there was no choking, no blowing leads and the Yankees went all the way. After falling behind 2-0 to the Braves in the World Series, the Yankees went on to win the next four games en route to winning the ’96 series, their first championship in almost two decades.

Had Mattingly played one more year, he would’ve had the World Series ring that had eluded him his entire career. After his playing days were over, Mattingly served as a special instructor for Yankees spring training from 1997-2003, a job Mattingly held in the midst of a Yankee dynasty.


It wasn’t until 2004 that Mattingly would rejoin the big league club, this time taking the Yankees hitting coach position. The same year Mattingly rejoined the Yankees, the Bombers were one out away from taking a trip to the World Series with Mattingly on the bench. Mariano Rivera would blow the game in the ninth, allowing the Red Sox breathing room to come back. The Yankees then proceeded to complete the biggest collapse in sports playoff history, ultimately surrendering a 3-0 series lead and becoming the first team in MLB history to blow a 3-0 lead. Mattingly was on the bench for all of this.

Mattingly remained as a coach until the end of 2007, which was Joe Torre’s last year. It was thought, upon Joe Torre’s departure, that Mattingly would almost certainly be the manager of the Yankees. After interviews with Mattingly, Tony Pena and Joe Girardi, Mattingly was passed up for Girardi and didn’t get the job as Yankees manager.

Mattingly then followed Joe Torre to the Dodgers where ultimately, he would become manager when Torre retired. Before he became manager, he had to leave the team during the 2008 season to help his wife who was suffering from mental health issues. Mattingly would later return to the team after. 

The multiple times Don Mattingly has been in the presence of tragic and devastating sports events is too much to ignore. Is he bad luck like many Yankees fans believe, or just a victim of circumstance?

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com