NEW YORK: After a year in the wings, Donnie Baseball made his retirement official Wednesday. "I guess I wasn't willing to pay the price to be successful," Mattingly told reporters at a farewell news conference at Yankee Stadium. "At that point I knew it was time to step away." A six-time All-Star and a nine-time Gold Glove first baseman, Mattingly hit .307 in his career with 222 home runs and 1,099 RBIs. He was the AL MVP in 1985, and later became only the 10th player to be named captain of the Yankees. His hiatus last year opened the door for the signings of first baseman Tino Martinez and, later, Cecil Fielder, who were both instrumental in the team's championship season. Mattingly's 14-year career coincided exactly with the Yankees' longest World Series drought since Babe Ruth joined the team. New York reached the finals in 1981, losing to the Dodgers, and were victorious in last year's against the Braves. Though hobbled since 1990 by recurrent back trouble, Mattingly came close twice. The Yankees were the AL's top team when the 1994 season was ended by the strike. And in his first playoff appearance, Mattingly batted .417 with one homer, four doubles and six RBIs in the Yankees' opening-round loss to Seattle in 1995. "He spent his whole life hoping to get into the World Series and never got there," said Joe Torre, who knows a bit about the subject. "One of the sadnesses of winning it all last year was that Donnie wasn't with us." Don Mattingly's locker was left empty during the Yankees' successful 1996 quest. It should stay that way until they win another one.