NEW YORK (AP) — Joe Torre sat at a microphone wearing pinstripes for the first time in nearly four years, Yankees cap resting precariously high on his head as it had for 12 seasons, and blurted out the answer to a question before it was finished being asked.
“No, I’m not doing that!” Torre said Sunday, as he was being asked whether he had any desire to follow Jack McKeon back to the manager’s chair.
Lou Piniella, who joined Torre as a first-timer at the 65th Yankees Old Timers’ Day, was equally emphatic about being satisfied with his decision to retire from his job as a big league manager. He called it quits as skipper of the Chicago Cubs last summer.
One newcomer to the annual day of Yankees nostalgia still isn’t officially retired, even though he’s successfully moved on as a Latin Grammy-nominated guitarist. Bernie Williams, the center fielder on four World Series title teams under Torre, hasn’t played since the Yankees refused to offer him a big league contract for the 2007 season.
“I think it’s closer now,” the 42-year-old Williams said with a laugh.
Torre retired as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers after 2010 and is now the executive vice president of operations for Major League Baseball. He’s spent plenty of time around the Yankees this season, and planned trips to Chicago and Cincinnati with hopes to witness Derek Jeter‘s 3,000th before the Yankees shortstop was injured.
“The losses got too tough to deal with,” Torre said of his decision to give up managing.
But the beloved Brooklynite who led New York to the playoffs in each of his 12 seasons as manger was still excited enough Sunday that he woke up at 5 a.m.
“Just putting it on it felt good,” Torre said of donning the uniform. “Taking it off was quite emotional in ’07.”
Torre walked away from the Yankees after 2007, insulted by a contract offer that included bonuses for advancing in the postseason, and then wrote a book, “The Yankee Years,” that caused a stir in the organization. On Sunday, he said any hard feelings were resolved when he returned for the memorial for the late owner George Steinbrenner last year.
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Torre jogged onto the field during pregame festivities wearing No. 6 without the sling he was using earlier to protect his surgically repaired right shoulder. He waved and blew kisses to all parts of the ballpark as fans feted him with the longest and loudest ovation, about 2 minutes, during the introductions of dozens of popular Yankees from different eras.
Several of his former players also received sustained ovations, with Williams receiving chants of “Bernie! Bernie!” for more than a minute. Williams was cheered when ran out to center field, his position for 16 seasons, and when he jogged into second base with a double.
Calls of “Louuuu” rang out for Piniella when he ran onto the field in his Yankees uniform for the first since 1988, his last with New York.
“I haven’t been home in what, 20 years, so it’s been special,” Piniella said.
Wearing the uniform, though, did little to persuade him to think about another job, especiall after McKeon was named interim manager of the Florida Marlins last week after Edwin Rodriguez quit.
“I saw where Jack McKeon took a job at 80. I feel like a youngster,” Piniella joked. “My managing career is over.”
Longtime Yankees trainer Gene Monahan threw out the ceremonial first pitch after a video tribute. He’ll be retiring after 49 years with the organization at the end of the season.
Mariano Rivera escorted Monahan to the first base line, giving him several pats on the back along the way. Monahan then took a spot at the base of the mound and threw a perfect strike to Jorge Posada, who donned his catching gear for the first time in 2010.
The Yankees presented Monahan with several gifts, including a replica of the famed frieze that hung over his locker at the old Yankee Stadium and a riding lawn mower. The players then greeted Monahan on the field and gave him a Ford pickup truck.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)