By Sweeny Murti
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It was great to see Joe Torre get into the Hall of Fame, as we all knew he would, along with Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa.
Torre’s path to the Hall was a strange one. Perhaps they are all strange to a degree, but Joe’s was unique: a very, very good playing career followed by managerial stops with the Mets, Braves and Cardinals, with a five-year pit stop between the Atlanta and St. Louis jobs to be a TV broadcaster for the Angels.
All that was about 35 years worth of life in baseball and the only way to get into Cooperstown was with a ticket. But along came the Yankees job.
With four World Series titles in five years, Joe Torre earned his Hall of Fame plaque. He knows it was due mainly to the willingness of George Steinbrenner to hire him and keep him at just the right time while a core of players (that included some future Hall of Famers as well) made the job look easy.
It was not easy. Winning is never easy, certainly not once, let alone four times in five years. Here are statements released by the Yankees following Torre’s election to the Hall:
“On behalf of the Steinbrenner family and our entire organization, I’d like to congratulate Joe Torre on his induction today into the Hall of Fame. Joe led our team during one of the most successful runs in our storied history, and he did it with a quiet dignity that was true to the Yankee way. Joe’s place in Yankees history has been secure for quite some time and it is appropriate that he now gets to take his place among the greats in Cooperstown.” — Hal Steinbrenner, Yankees managing general partner
“Joe was a tremendous manager, and this is such a richly deserved honor. I was incredibly fortunate to have played and coached for Joe, and I learned so many nuances into managing from him. The first thing I think of is how much of an importance he placed on developing and cultivating relationships. Not only with players, but with everyone he came in contact with. It’s something that was the bedrock for his success.” — Joe Girardi, Yankees manager (played under Torre from 1996-99 and was a bench coach and catching instructor for Torre in 2005)
“Mr. Torre is like a second father to me. I learned so much from him, but what sticks with me the most is the way he treated everyone with respect and fairness. In my opinion, it was his greatest attribute. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor.” — Derek Jeter, Yankees captain and shortstop (played during Torre’s entire Yankees tenure from 1996-2007)
“I could not be more proud. What made him special was that he was always there to support his players, to offer encouragement. And if he saw something he didn’t like, he’d be the first to pull you aside and let you know, but he did it with class. Joe let us enjoy the game. When you have a manager like that, you play with love and good things happen. As a player, that’s all you can ever ask for.” — Mariano Rivera, former Yankees pitcher (played during Torre’s entire Yankees tenure from 1996-2007)
“I’m so excited for Joe. In many ways, he was the pulse of all those championship teams. The one thing about Joe is that he never panicked, and that type of calm demeanor allowed us to go out and do the things we were capable of doing. He was a great teacher and father figure to all of us.” — Andy Pettitte, former Yankees pitcher (played under Torre from 1996-2003 and in 2007)
“I’m so happy for Joe and his family. He was our leader and he was also our security blanket. When I played for Joe, I felt like he was my dad. We played the game with respect and honor, and we took those qualities from him. He’s one of the immortals now.” — Jorge Posada, former Yankees catcher (played during Torre’s entire Yankees tenure from 1996-2007)
Funny how the twists and turns take you, though. Torre turned down a trade from the Mets to the Yankees in 1976 (which would have gotten him to a World Series about 20 years earlier than he got there) because he thought he’d have a chance to manage the Mets in the future. The future came one year later, and even though the road had many curves to follow, he found his way to the Bronx just in time.
Torre’s destiny became the Yankees dynasty.
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