Donnie Baseball still can crush a curveball.

His fielding skills haven't dropped off much, either.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was greeted on this sunny and warm Thursday morning by a handful of media outside the team's spring training complex at Camelback Ranch in Glendale.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times asked the firstyear skipper numerous questions in regards to how spring camp was taking shape.

 

Former big-leaguer turned broadcaster Steve Lyons, who is now an employee for Dodgers TV, asked Mattingly about his pitching rotation.

 

Other writers from the Washington Post, MLB.com, etc., fired away at Mattingly for close to 20 minutes.

The New York Yankees great handled each and every question with ease and was thorough with his delivery.

I waited patiently while the more important and baseball-specific questions were fielded. Lyons nudged me and joked, "Don doesn't understand Canadian French, so be sure your questions are in English."

I sensed an opening and served up my best curveball for Mattingly.

 

Me: "Don, your older brother Randy played professional football in Canada in the same city where I am from. How is Randy and what is he up to these days?"

 

Mattingly: Holy s-! Are you here all the way from good old Saskatchewan?"

Mattingly proceeded to hit everything else from this Cactus

Randy Mattingly       Evansville          
    Passing           Rushing    
Yr Team Att Cmp Yds Pct. TD Int Lg C Yds Avg Lg TD
1974 Ssk 65 35 553 53.8 4 6 55 9 76 8.4 17 0
1975 Ssk 22 8 82 36.4 0 4 17 4 9 2.3 4 0
1976 Ham 37 18 177 48.6 0 2 28 1 0 0.0 0 0
Total 3 124 61 812 49.2 4 12 55 14 85 6.1 19 0

 League rookie out of the park, and did so with enough humour to keep the surrounding media intrigued with our conversation.

 

Randy Mattingly was the backup quarterback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders during the 1974 and 1975 CFL seasons.

Randy was selected by the NFL's Cleveland Browns (fourth round, 100th overall) in the 1973 NFL draft. He began his professional football career the following year north of the border in Regina.

 

"I was up in Saskatchewan once to see (Randy) play," Don Mattingly recalled. "That Ronnie Lancaster, wow, what a player.

"For all of you (media) who don't know who Ronnie Lancaster is, he's a football legend in Canada. Randy didn't play much, and that's all because of Ronnie Lancaster. Man, that guy was a heck of a player."

(Legendary Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda then whizzed past the scrum in his golf cart).

 

Randy Mattingly played sparingly during his two seasons with the Riders. He dressed for all 16 regular-season games in '74 and passed for 553 yards, completing 35 of 65 attempts. He also tossed four touchdowns and served up six interceptions.

The Riders placed second in the Western Conference (now West Division) that year with a 9-7 record and eventually lost to the Edmonton Eskimos in the West final.

 

The Riders were 10-5-1 the following season and again lost to the Eskimos in the West final.

Don Mattingly, before his stellar baseball career took flight with the Yankees, visited Regina during the '74 CFL season to see his older brother in uniform.

 

He made sure he planned his trip before the weather took a turn toward the winter.

"Maybe it was the right time of year, but I remember (Regina) being very clean and wellmaintained," he said. "There were flowers everywhere and it looked really pretty. I enjoyed the time I spent there."

 

Don Mattingly, like his three older brothers, was a standout athlete while growing up in Evansville, Ind. He was recruited by the Indiana University football program during his senior year in high school. But Don chose baseball, which proved to be a wise decision.

He went on to enjoy a remarkable career in pinstripes in the Bronx -he was the 1985 American League MVP and collected 222 home runs and 2,153 hits over 14 big-league seasons. As good a ball player as he was, Don still gets teased about Randy being the better athlete.

 

"Randy is the best athlete in the family, no question about it," Don said. "All of my three older brothers played everything and they were all better than me at everything.

 

"Randy, even though he's in his 60s now, he can really golf. But he used to be all-state in basketball. When he went to college, he broke a Division II record in the javelin. He was good at everything . but he couldn't hit a baseball like I could."

Touch 'em all, Don.

 

Mattingly laughed along with the rest of the media, shook my hand and started his trek toward the batting cage.