(CBS Local)– Willie Randolph won a lot of games during his career as an MLB player, coach and manager. The former New York Yankees second baseman and New York Mets manager is a 6x World Series champion and a 6x All-Star. Randolph won two rings as a player with the Pinstripes in 1977 and 1978 and then won four more with the Bronx Bombers as a coach during their dynasty in the late 1990s and early 200s.
CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith recently caught up with Randolph to discuss his time in Major League Baseball, growing up in Brooklyn and the memorabilia he is auctioning off through Athlete Direct.READ MORE: 15-Year-Old Fatally Stabbed In Brooklyn, Police Questioning Person Of Interest
“Imagine a 21-year-old kid who grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn walking into historic Yankee Stadium, “said Randolph. “I even get goosebumps talking about it and you really feel that. The old stadium was more like that than the new stadium.”
“The new stadium is pristine and gorgeous, but there was nothing like the old Yankee Stadium. That’s where all the ghosts were lurking in the rafters with Babe Ruth and all these cats. You almost feel their presence in the building. I got to be around the great Thurman Munson and Roy White and Catfish Hunter. I grew up trying to emulate and imitate these guys and now I was rubbing elbows with them in the same clubhouse and Billy Martin was my manager back then.”
Randolph got to play in the World Series in his first three years in the bigs. The Pinstripes lost to the Cincinnati Reds in 1976 and then the Yankees won back to back rings in 1977 and 1978. Randolph says there is nothing like winning it all in New York.
“Doing that in New York City with the ticker tape parades and everything was surreal,” said Randolph. “When I first walked in, I was in total awe of the building. I felt the history around me and it was very special.”READ MORE: With Just 5 Days Until The Democratic Mayoral Primary Election, Candidates Bring Out Stars And Celebs
Thurman Munson was the captain and he commanded that respect of our ballclub. I remember when I first met Thurman, I was a little bit intimidated by him. He was a great guy when you got to know him, but he was old school and gruff.”
The former Yankees second baseman has been involved with some of the best moments in baseball history and he’s now sharing his memorabilia collection through a new website called AthelteDirect.com from sports marketing executive Brandon Steiner. Randolph’s items included signed baseball, cleats and hats from World Series games in 1970s and 1990s and All Star appearances as well.
“I’ve been in baseball for four decades and had access to all the greatest players in the game,” said Randolph. “My kids grew up in the ballpark. Over the years, we collected some cool things and I can’t take it with me, so I wanted to share it with the fans. My kids are all older now and they don’t really care about that stuff anymore, so I have some cool things to share.”
While playing for the Yankees was special for Randolph, he also loved the time he had as manager of the New York Mets. The Mets won the NL East in 2006 and made it Game 7 of the NLCS. That was the only time Randolph got the chance to manage an MLB team.
“As a kid in Brownsville, Brooklyn, I was a Mets fan also. People look at me mostly as a Yankee, but I have as much Met blood in me as Yankees,” said Randolph. “When the Mets won in 1969, my friends and I were dancing in the streets. We went crazy when they beat the mighty Orioles. That’s when I really got hooked on baseball.”MORE NEWS: Long Island School Staffers Honored For Protecting Children When Alleged Drunk Driver Drove Onto School Field
“When I got the Met job, it was like a dream come true. We turned the team around so quickly and we knocked the Braves off their perch after 13 years of dominance. We got one pitch from going to the World Series in 2006. The big disappointment was 2007. I was walking around New York City and Met fans were excited again and proud again. It felt like we had a piece of the city from the Yankees.”