Baseball is full of unique traditions from its storied past. It’s not so much the “unwritten rules” between the lines. A lot of it has to deal with off-the-field traditions.
One of the more well-known and beloved traditions is having the managers from the previous year’s World Series manage the All-Star teams in July. That has been the case dating all the way back to 1934.
Unfortunately, Davey Martinez wasn’t able to have that honor during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season after the Nationals won the 2019 World Series. There was no All-Star Game that year, so therefore, there was no National League team to manage.
But this year will be a small consolation for Martinez, who on Monday was named to Braves manager Brian Snitker’s coaching staff for this year’s edition of the Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium (the rescheduled location after the cancellation of 2020’s game).
“I talked to Brian Snitker. We go way back. He's a good man,” Martinez said of being named to the NL coaching staff. “I'm honored to be a part of the staff. It seems like I've known a lot of those guys for many, many years. I played with some of them. I played with (first base coach Eric Young Jr.'s) dad in Chicago. So I'm excited about it. It'd be a lot of fun, get to see some familiar faces and hang out with some coaches that I know.”
Martinez will join Snitker’s staff from Atlanta and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who was also appointed to the staff as the host team’s manager, another All-Star Game tradition. Martinez joined Roberts’ coaching staff when Nationals Park hosted the game in 2018.
“It's a lot of fun,” Martinez said. “Like I said, you're amongst the best of the best of the game. And like I said, it's definitely an honor to be there and see all of these unbelievable players and get to mingle and pick people's brains. So for me, it's a great experience.”
The Nationals skipper does look back at his missed opportunity to manage the All-Star Game in order to appreciate this nomination more. But as selfless as ever, he also wishes he had the chance to manage the game so his own coaching staff and Nationals fans could share in the experience.
“It would have been really nice to manage an All-Star Game,” Martinez said. “But I think it was more, as you said, for the fans and more so for my coaching staff. I think they're the ones that ... like, when we didn't get a chance to do it, I was more upset about my coaching staff. We put a lot of work in, as you know. Even today, these guys put tons of work in. They're here 11-12 o'clock and spend hours working with players. That they didn't get the opportunity to go and do what they obviously deserved, oh man, it was a big year for us, you know? You win in '19 and you expect all these different things and '20, we didn't get that. But I told them, as I always tell them, I said, 'Hey, one year it will be our turn together. So we'll get back there and we'll get to enjoy it one day.'”
For now, he’ll get to enjoy the experience in a couple of weeks in Los Angeles. He’s going to use the time to reconnect with some of his friends from around the league as they enjoy a celebration of the game’s best players.
“I'm gonna have fun, there's no doubt about it,” Martinez said with a smile. “But it's all about, like I said, you're going with guys that you've known around the league. There's a time where you get to spend time with, instead of somebody in a different uniform, you get to spend time with a bunch of different guys. Guys that I've had here, guys that I've coached, coaches that I've known for many, many years. And we get to get together for a few days and just kind of just have fun with the game. Watch some of these superstars do their thing.”
What’s Martinez’s favorite part of All-Star week?
“I love the Home Run Derby,” he said. “And for me to go there and sit and just be a fan and watch these guys just hit the ball as far as they can, it's pretty exciting. So I'm gonna do it with a big smile on my face and watch and hoot and holler like all of the fans do.”