Baseball Bids Farewell To Veteran Managers
LOS ANGELES (AP) — On his final day managing the Los Angeles Dodgers, Joe Torre went old school.
“I did something that hasn’t been done for years. I wrote out a lineup card. No computer today,” he said Sunday, 29 years after his career on the bench began with the New York Mets. “I figured I wrote out the first one. Let me write out the last one.”
Torre gave the original card to Dodgers starter Ted Lilly and made copies for his coaching staff. He planned to keep his No. 6 jersey.
Torre felt more nostalgia in his final game against the Arizona Diamondbacks than sadness since he’s the one who decided to call it a career on the bench.
“I’m looking forward to the next part of it,” he said. “At some point, you got to spend more time somewhere else.”
Torre ended with a 3-1 win over Arizona. He wasn’t the only manager retiring. Toronto’s Cito Gaston oversaw his final game at Minnesota, going out a 2-1 winner.
“I’ve been asked this morning two or three times how I feel about putting on the uniform for the last time,” Gaston said. “When I take it off today and I get on the plane and I’m flying home, I think the moment will hit me.”
Atlanta’s Bobby Cox had his career extended when the Braves beat Philadelphia 8-7, prompting fans to chant his name. Cox, who is 69, plans to retire after the season and remain with the team as a consultant.
“I’ll miss managing, but I’m going to be connected just a tiny bit to the organization where I can have my own schedule,” he said. “My intentions are to go down and mingle some with the minor leaguers, cheer them up a bit during the course of the season. It’s a grind and I always enjoyed somebody from the office coming to visit when I was a player down there.”
The Braves won the NL wild card and got a first-round playoff matchup with San Francisco after the Giants beat San Diego 3-0.
Atlanta paid tribute to Cox on Saturday, when he received a new car from the team and a cruise from his players.
Cox ranks fourth on the regular-season wins list with 2,504, trailing Connie Mack (3,776), John McGraw (2,840) and the St. Louis Cardinals’ Tony La Russa (2,638). Torre is next with 2,326.
Gaston won two World Series titles, in 1992 and 1993, during a managerial run that ended in 1997. He returned to Toronto as a hitting coach from 2000-01 and took over as manager again in June 2008, going 211-201 in his second stint. Overall, Gaston was 893-837.
Gaston said he thinks he’ll be remembered for his fairness with his players.
“Not too many players like coaches or managers anymore. They don’t trust them. I would like to think I’m the most fair manager that they’re ever going to be around,” he said.
“I leave people out there longer than I should sometimes, or let people play longer than they probably should sometimes. Sometimes it makes them stronger in the long run, makes the club a better ballclub.”
The Blue Jays honored Gaston with a pregame ceremony on Wednesday night in their home finale. After the Jays beat the Yankees, they showered Gaston with beer and water to celebrate a career in which he was the first black manager to win a World Series.
“I got pretty emotional the other night when you find out you touched that many people’s lives,” he said.
On the field in Los Angeles, the Dodgers gave Torre a specially commissioned painting of him in a Dodgers uniform.
“We’ve had some magical moments,” Torre told the fans. “I can tell you one thing, I am leaving you and the players in very good hands. Don Mattingly is very special.”
Torre told the crowd that the last three of his dozen years managing the New York Yankees were “very stressful years for me. I just wasn’t sure if managing was going to be fun anymore.”
He credited Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, who was booed, general manager Ned Colletti, and his wife and daughter for making baseball fun again.
Torre’s career includes managing the Mets, Atlanta, St. Louis, and most memorably, the Yankees, whom he guided to four World Series championships before leaving in 2007.
Torre’s players trickled into his office in recent days to bid personal farewells to the 70-year-old.
He led the Dodgers into the playoffs his first two seasons in Los Angeles but he left with his first 162-game losing season since 1984, when he managed the Braves.
Torre had his wife, daughter, and three in-laws from Cincinnati on hand, while his 78-year-old brother and former big leaguer Frank watched from Florida.
Torre’s future includes a brief Hawaiian vacation and then getting busy selling tables for his foundation’s dinner honoring Derek Jeter in New York on Nov. 11.
He said it’s safe to say he’s definitely retiring from managing, although he couldn’t resist joking that all the farewell fuss “is really going to go right out the tubes when I manage again next year.”
Hitting coach Don Mattingly already has been hired to succeed Torre.
Torre maybe broadcast some baseball and said he would consider managing in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
“Something like that would be interesting because you don’t have a lot of baggage there,” he said. “It would be right-now stimulation. I could see at some point if there was somebody that thought I could be a benefit. That’s the key for me, whatever I do I have to feel like I’m going to help and not just be around because I’ve been around a long time.”
Torre’s agent has fielded inquiries about broadcasting opportunities, and Torre plans to talk with Dodgers GM Ned Colletti later this month about a possible role with the team.
“I don’t think I ever want to shut down,” he said.
Torre shared his farewell with 40-year-old backup catcher Brad Ausmus, who retired Sunday after 18 years in the big leagues.
The three-time Gold Glove winner, who played two seasons with the Dodgers, was honored before the game by the team and his alma mater Dartmouth. He caught his 1,938th game, doubling in his first at-bat and singling in his last before being replaced by a pinch-runner and receiving a standing ovation.
AP Sports Writers Dave Campbell in Minneapolis and Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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