Don Mattingly was emphatic when asked if he was a Cincinnati Reds' fan growing up in nearby Evansville, Indiana.
"Are you kidding me?" Mattingly replied when he was asked about being a Reds' fan on the eve of a ceremony to dedicate a statue of Joe Morgan. All eight position players, Morgan's Big Red Machine teammates, will attend the ceremony while the Dodgers are in town this weekend, including Pete Rose. Rose is banned from baseball for gambling.
Mattingly was a Reds fan. The Reds' manager is a former Dodger player from the BRM era.
"I was a big Reds' guy," Mattingly said. "They were my wiffle ball team. We had to bat with the same hand the real guys did. I've been Johnny Bench, Junior Kennedy. Dan Driessen played third. I knew all those guys. I could be all lefties except Geronimo. I had to play Concepcion."
He emulated them on the wiffle ball field and watched them on television.
"I watched all those guys," Mattingly said. "Don Gullett, big Jack Billingsley, I mean Jack Billingham, I watched them a lot. The Dodger skipper had his own pitcher Chad Billingsley from Defiance, Ohio confused with Jack Billingham of the Big Red Machine, temporarily.
Mattingly is in favor of Rose's participation.
"It's cool," Mattingly said. "It is fine with me."