Willie Randolph is well acquainted with New York baseball. A Brownsville native who loved both the Mets and Mickey Mantle while growing up, Randolph spent 24 years with the Yankees as a player or coach and another four-plus years as a player or manager with the Mets.
With so much of his life spent playing baseball in the Big Apple, it only makes sense that the timing of the release of his autobiography, “The Yankee Way,” coincides with this year’s iteration of the Subway Series.
amNewYork spoke with the former second baseman about his book and his thoughts on the sport.
What inspired you to write “The Yankee Way”?
I just wanted to tell my story, to inspire young people, motivate them. I’ve always felt funny and it’s always hurt me a little bit going back to the old neighborhood — you know, I see kids who are not really playing baseball anymore, see kids who are not doing anything constructive with their lives. I just wanted to show that if you work hard and get your education, you can do this. You can dream and it comes true.
What would it have meant to earn a Gold Glove?
First of all, I know I should have won at least two because I took a lot of pride in my defense, but it was around the time when we had great second basemen like Frank White, Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich, and they would nose me out. But there were times when there were the defensive categories and I was at the top of the list for each of those years, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was disappointed that I didn’t get at least one of those.
If as many teams made the playoffs in the 1980s as do today, how many of your Yankees teams could have made championship runs?
We were right around 90 wins every year, a place where you could sneak into a championship, sneak into the playoffs, but that was frustrating. Even though we won a lot of games, we had some real solid ball clubs. The only thing was that we didn’t have that real solid pitching staff. We did it through free agency, but it didn’t always pan out.
Do you foresee a day when there could be a Willie Randolph plaque in Monument Park?
That’d be so cool, the ultimate honor and thrill. I just never really think about it like that, to be able to share that with my man [Ron] Guidry, I mean we were co-captains together for all those great years. Personal stuff, I never really think much about, and I know who I am, and if someone wants to honor me then, obviously, it’s a privilege.