Magazine article Ebony

Willie Randolph: A Familiar Face in a New Place: The Former New York Yankees All-Star Moves across Town as Manager of the New York Mets

Magazine article Ebony

Willie Randolph: A Familiar Face in a New Place: The Former New York Yankees All-Star Moves across Town as Manager of the New York Mets

Article excerpt

IF you ask Willie Randolph, he'll tell you that he knows a little bit about being in the spotlight. For nearly 20 years as a player and coach for the New York Yankees, baseball's most storied team, he learned--day in and day out--what it's like to perform on center stage under the bright lights and scrutiny of New York City.

Now everything has been turned up a few notches since the former Yankees second baseman moved across town for a job as manager of the New York Mets--a job he prepared himself for from the time he was growing up in Brooklyn. "I'm a New Yorker, and I'm tough," says Randolph, who cites Jackie Robinson and Negro Leagues legends Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell as inspirational figures. "No job is really easy, but I think in New York the expectations are higher."

Be that as it may, Randolph describes himself as a winner, one who knows how to win, how to instill that attitude into his players and one, he says, who knows how to transform a team that finished fourth in its division last year and is coming off its third straight losing season. But he knows he has a huge hill to climb as he proceeds to deal with fan expectations, media scrutiny and an atmosphere of losing that has apparently engulfed the team. "It's all about attitude, whether it's discipline or whether it's just the way you practice," he says. "If you don't change [the defeatist attitude], it becomes a defeatist situation. I've always been around winning. I'm no genius, but I know how to win."

Over the years, Randolph says he has been interviewed unsuccessfully for 11 or 12 other managerial positions, but he is thrilled to join Dusty Baker (Chicago Cubs), Frank Robinson (Washington Nationals) and Lloyd McClendon (Pittsburgh Pirates) as the fourth African-American manager in the major leagues. …

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