George Bamberger, the man from Staten Island, became manager of the New York Mets yesterday. Score another for old Oriole connections.

Just as former Baltimore executive Harry Dalton plucked Bambi off Earl Weaver's staff to manage Milwaukee in 1978, ex-Oriole exec Frank Cashen coaxed the old minor league pitching ace into Shea Stadium and out of the Brewer advisory role into which he had settled.

Bamberger said he felt good, that his heart has not given him problems since his spring 1980 bypass operation; that he had turned down two other managing offers; that "to manage in New York is the ultimate challenge. I've been competitive all my life and I really wanted this challenge"; that he had been given the option of a contract for one, two or three years and chose to sign for just one: "I don't want to be paid if I fail."

For the one year, he probably will be the majors' highest-paid manager, at about $220,000 . . .

Joe Torre, fired by the Mets at season's end, evidently will have another managerial job any day. Reportedly offered the Atlanta post, he also has blinks from San Diego -- and supposedly from Montreal, where Jim Fanning might be ready to move back upstairs, already.

Baby steps by the Baltimore Colts toward ????: Restaurateur Bobby Boyd, 1960s Colt defensive backfield star and assistant coach 1969-72, brought back to help tutor the sievish 1981 secondary . . . David Humm, a career NFL sub, in for a quarterback tryout . . .

Darryl Stingley soon will be an autobiographer, we hear as his Touchdown Club appearance approaches (Friday luncheon, to receive the Gene Brito Award; tickets available); that would balance the books with that by Jack Tatum, other half of the play that relegated New England NFL star Stingley to a wheelchair and personnel work with the Patriots . . .

"Can a 14th Street Kid Make It to Pro Football?" Post columnist Dorothy Gilliam posed the question from Tucson in March after earlier chronicling the inspiring rise of Julius (Big Reds) Holt from mean streets to Cardozo High graduation to Ellsworth Community College in Iowa. And the answer is developing: could be. Holt, a 6-foot-2, 244-pound junior defensive tackle at Arizona, played a major role as the Wildcats knocked USC out of No. 1; he had eight stops. Arizona is 4-0 since Reds moved into a starting spot (season stats: 49 tackles, three sacks), and this week takes a crack at 5-0-1 Washington State.

Two more NASL teams in trouble: L.A. Aztecs and Minnesota Kicks, charged with violating league constitution by skipping indoor season and threatened with "involuntary termination proceedings." They notified the league they planned to cease operation if they can't find buyers . . .

The day World Series '81 began, Mr. October of yore -- a record 18 homers, 40 RBI, 42 runs in 12 Series -- turned 50. And his right knee, as he puts it, turned 100. His father, at 39; grandfather and two brothers all died relatively young, of Hodgkin's disease, so: "I feel lucky," said Mickey Mantle at home in North Dallas, where he and his bride will celebrate a 30th anniversary on Christmas Day. "I wasn't supposed to make it this far."