MLB veteran speaks to Brandeis’ baseball team
Willie Randolph, former New York Yankee, spoke about his career and the importance of teamwork.
On Friday, Oct. 22, former New York Yankee Willie Randolph spoke via Zoom to the Brandeis Baseball team. In 1975, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Randolph to the New York Yankees where he spent 13 of his 18 seasons as a player, according to the MLB Player Profile. Besides the Yankees and the Pirates, Randolph spent some time playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland A’s and the Milwaukee Brewers before ending his distinguished playing career with the New York Mets in 1992. As a player, he was a six-time All-Star and a two-time World Series Champion. In 2004, Randolph was named the manager of the Mets for the upcoming 2005 season, joining the ranks of Gil Hodges, Yogi Berra and Joe Torre, among others who played for and later managed the team.
In his conversation with the team, Randolph explained that teamwork and looking out for one another are key to playing together, and that good teammates are critical to making each other better — a sentiment he shared in a 2020 interview with the Justice. According to the January 2020 article, he stated that “You have to earn trust and try to get to know [your teammates] as people, not just as ballplayers. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that this is a fun game.”
Randolph opened the floor to the team to ask questions. He answered questions about the difference between playing on bigger market teams, like the Yankees, versus playing for smaller market teams, like the Brewers. Randolph spoke fondly of his time in Milwaukee in 1991 where he played alongside Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. On the other hand, playing for a big market team is different primarily due to the amount of media scrutiny.
Another question the team asked was about how to establish a good winning culture. In response, Randolph explained the importance of coaches treating players fairly, and of players and coaches consistently respecting each other’s abilities and personalities. He explained that a good team culture allows for support of one another to help each other through the ups and downs of a long season.
The team then asked about commonalities between the best teams. The answer? Fundamentals. Bunting, hitting, running and moving the runners over are some crucial fundamentals which Randolph emphasized when his teams went to spring training. They discussed that some of the most successful teams now are utilizing these fundamentals, along with remaining consistent and maintaining a strong work ethic.
Randolph highlighted the importance of routine when asked about how players prepared for a game. He spoke of players having different strategies before game-time, all of which were different but important to those individuals. The importance was not what was done, as long as this routine prepares the player both physically and mentally.
When asked about what it was like to play under Billy Martin, Randolph spoke fondly about his time under the famous Yankee manager. Martin was described as tough to play for and old school, but he always got the best out of his players and pushed them to be their best. He was described as a real leader. Finally, Randolph spoke about all of his managers, including Tony La Russa, Tommy Lasorda and Dick Howser, explaining that what he learned from each made him a better player and coach.
The conversation consisted of about 30 minutes of questions and answers, which allowed the team to ask various questions. Throughout the conversation, a constant theme was the importance of teamwork to ensure a team’s success.