Tommy Lasorda & Don Mattingly
Known as "Donnie Baseball" during his days as the New York Yankees' first baseman in the 1980s and '90s, Mattingly has endured his share of pressure-filled situations on the field, not to mention scrutiny in a town known for critical sports media. Perhaps that was the perfect training for his first season as manager of the Dodgers in 2011 -- a year filled with disappointment on the field and controversy in the owner's box. But Mattingly, who began as hitting coach with the Dodgers in 2008 under then-manager Joe Torre, had a willing mentor in former Dodgers skipper Lasorda, a three-time World Series champion and current special adviser to the chairman. Says Mattingly, "Whenever something was going on, he'd tell me a story or something he had been through and just kind of helped me through all that." Although the team struggled during the first half of 2011, Mattingly turned it around in the final months of the season, salvaging a winning record. He also coaxed an MVP-caliber season from firebrand center fielder Matt Kemp and a Cy Young Award for left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Observers, including Lasorda, credit Mattingly, 51, for getting the team's nucleus of young stars -- including Kemp and Kershaw -- to trust him. "That's the answer to it. If the players believe in the manager and players love the manager, then they are going to play hard for him -- that's the way it goes," says Lasorda, still fiery at 84 despite suffering a heart attack (his second) a little more than a week before being interviewed. An Indiana native, Mattingly made his big-league debut in 1982, a year after the Lasorda-led Dodgers beat the Yankees in the World Series. Mattingly, the American League MVP in 1985, never played in a World Series, retiring the year before the Yankees won in 1996. But Lasorda hopes Mattingly's timing is better as a manager: "I want to see him do well -- I think he's an outstanding man. I think he's done an outstanding job."
Photographed June 16 in the Dodgers dugout