Now more than 36 years later, Mattingly is heading to Miami to manage the Marlins, whose owner Jeffrey Loria didn't hesitate in making the hire once the Dodgers and Mattingly decided to part ways.
It is a win-win for the Marlins and Mattingly.
Looking to bring credibility to his organization, Loria hired a well-respected baseball man. Mattingly, an All-Star as a player and a success as a manager, guided the Dodgers to the postseason the last three seasons and finished second in National League Manager of the Year Award voting in 2013.
And looking for a second chance after parting ways with an organization which had undergone a massive front-office overhaul, Mattingly was afforded that opportunity by Loria.
It's going to be a challenge. Nobody said it will be easy. But then, Mattingly has never been someone who asked for favors.
He is a battler, despite a low-key personality that at times is mistaken for a lack of fire.
Yes, Loria is an active owner.
When the 2016 season opens, Mattingly will be the Marlins' seventh manager in 10 years -- not counting one-game interim skipper Brandon Hyde, who filled the gap between the dismissal of Edwin Rodriguez 71 games into the 2011 season and the time it took replacement Jack McKeon to join the team.
Mattingly's been there. He's done that.
He played for the George Steinbrenner Yankees and came through his career as one of the most respected players in recent franchise history by fans, the media and the Yankees management, including Steinbrenner.
It's not that everything was smooth and easy. There were 11 managerial changes with the Yankees in the 13-plus years Mattingly wore pinstripes before back problems forced an early retirement.
Mattingly also showed dignity with the Dodgers, where a revamped front office looked at him as too old school for the new-age approach, and where -- because the Dodgers had spent more than $300 million on player salaries last year -- a championship was expected, even if there were glaring holes.
Throughout two seasons of speculation about his job security, Mattingly never uttered a complaint, refraining from being drawn into a public spat even though the door to that opportunity was opened frequently by media inquiries.
It's a strength that will serve him well with the Marlins.
Loria is going to have his emotional moments.
Mattingly, however, won't react.
If his own experiences with the Yankees didn't teach him that, serving as a member of Joe Torre's coaching staff with the Yankees and Dodgers did.
Torre had an amazing run with the Steinbrenner Yankees. He managed the team for 12 consecutive years. He brought a calm to the turmoil in the Bronx, because he dealt with the team's ownership behind closed doors.
He kept the office politics out of the clubhouse. He kept the players focused on playing baseball.
It is a style that fits Mattingly.
It is a style that will allow him to enjoy success in Miami.