The person in the other dugout is no stranger to the Fall Classic, either. Davey Johnson, a four-time All-Star as a player and a World Series-winning manager, will head the U.S. Team.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Johnson said. "I love coaching young, talented guys who'll be in the big leagues one day soon. It's a great thrill."
This year, with the Olympic Games in Beijing looming, the Futures Game will have a slightly different look. Instead of simply having an All-Star squad of United States prospects, it will be the 2008 Team USA Olympic trial team featured against the World Team. The nine-inning game begins at 12:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live by ESPN2, ESPN2 HD and on XM Satellite Radio. The length of the game is also a departure from the past, with eight of the past nine Futures Games being seven-inning contests. The game in Atlanta, in 2000, lasted nine innings.
"We are very excited to continue the tradition of showcasing our game's top young talent during the XM All-Star Futures Game," said Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's president and chief operating officer. "This year's event will be particularly special, as our fans will have the opportunity to get a first look at many of the players who
will make up Team USA and represent our country in August at the Beijing Olympics."
Martinez and Johnson join a very select group of Futures Game skippers. Hall of Famers that have participated in the past include Rich Gossage, Juan Marichal, Paul Molitor, Lou Brock, Luis Aparicio, Tony Perez, George Brett and Gaylord Perry. Former All-Stars who have skippered are Jim Rice, Tony Oliva, Minnie Minoso, Willie Hernandez and Davey Concepcion.
Martinez, who was selected 14th overall by the Seattle Mariners in the 1988 First-Year Player Draft, played
16 seasons in the Majors from 1990-2005 with the Seattle Mariners (1990-95), New York Yankees (1996-2001,
2005), St. Louis Cardinals (2002-03) and Tampa Bay Rays (2004). Martinez was a key member of the World
Series champion New York Yankees teams in 1996, and from 1998-2000. In 1997, Martinez set career-highs with a .296
batting average, 44 home runs, 141 RBIs and finished second in AL MVP voting. In addition, Martinez was crowned the
winner of the Home Run Derby and won the AL Silver Slugger Award at first base. Martinez, who will also
participate in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game, retired following the 2005 season. In
2,223 career games, he posted a .271 average with 339 home runs and 1,271 RBIs. He hit at least 20 home runs in
nine seasons and drove in over 100 runs six times. Martinez currently serves as a special assistant to the general manager for the New York Yankees. He sees the Futures Game as a showcase for young talent and is ready to guide said talent on the field. The main thing he plans on doing to get ready is to work on his language skills.
"I'm pretty good at speaking Spanish with baseball terms," Martinez said. "I'm going to brush up so I can address the team in Spanish and in English. I will definitely have that down before I get there.
"The goal is to win the ballgame, but you want to get everyone in the game and let them show the fans their skills. It's an opportunity -- on TV, in Yankee Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd for these future Major Leaguers to show the world the future of our game. I'm looking forward to watching both teams play and be surrounded by all that great young talent and know the future is in good hands."
Johnson played 13 seasons in the Majors, from 1965-1978, for the Baltimore Orioles (1965-72), Atlanta
Braves (1973-75), Philadelphia Phillies (1977-78) and Chicago Cubs (1978). In 1973, Johnson's first year with the
Braves, he set career highs with 151 hits, 43 home runs, 99 RBIs and 84 runs scored. The 43 home runs broke
Rogers Hornsby's record (42 in 1922) for most home runs in a season by a second baseman. Johnson, who won
three consecutive Gold Glove Awards as a second baseman (1969-71), was a member of the Orioles' 1966
and 1970 World Series championship teams. He retired after the 1978 season with a .261 average, 136 home runs, 609
RBIs, 1,252 hits and 242 doubles in 1,435 games.
Following his playing career, Johnson compiled a career managerial record of 1,148-888 (.564) in 14 Major League seasons as a manager with the New York Mets (1984-90), Cincinnati Reds (1993-95), Baltimore Orioles (1996-97) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1999-2000). In 1986, Johnson guided the Mets to 108 regular-season wins and a World Series championship as they beat the Boston Red Sox in seven games. Johnson was also selected the 1997 American League Manager of the Year after leading the Orioles to the AL East Division title. Since 2005, Johnson has served as a coach or manager for USA Baseball. In 2006, he managed the U.S. Team at the Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Cuba, where his team won the gold medal and a spot in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 2007, Johnson was at the helm of the U.S. Team that won the gold medal at the IBAF Baseball World Cup in Taiwan.
Johnson will serve as the manager of the U.S. Team at the Olympics in Beijing, China, in August.
"Any time guys get to play in the big league ballpark against the best opposition the world has, it's a great experience," Johnson said. "It's a way they grow and they appreciate their talent. When you manage a group of guys, you want them to reach their potential.
"A lot of these guys in the Futures Game, they may be on the Olympic Team. I have some more veteran guys on my 60-man list, but some of those guys may impress enough to make the final 24. It's a good opportunity for them and for myself and my coaching staff."
The 25-man rosters and coaches for the U.S. and the World Futures Teams, selected by MLB in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America, USA Baseball and the 30 Major League Baseball clubs, will be unveiled during the MLB All-Star Futures Selection Show on MLB.TV on Thursday, June 26 at 3 p.m.