SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. (WFAN) — Three days before Mike Piazza will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, former Yankees manager Joe Torre was asked about the two controversial incidents in 2000 involving the Mets catcher and Roger Clemens.
Playing for the Yankees, Clemens hit Piazza in the head with a pitch on July 8, 2000, sending the slugger to the dirt with a concussion.
When the Yanks and Mets met up again in the World Series, Clemens tossed a shattered bat in Piazza’s direction as the Met ran out a foul ball.
“I do not believe that Roger hit him (in the head) on purpose,” Torre told WFAN’s Chris Carlin and Kim Jones on Thursday at a golf and tennis fundraiser for his foundation in Sleepy Hollow. “Roger would never throw and hit anybody on purpose there. If he’s going to do that, he’s going to be down around the belt or something like that.
“Then in the World Series, I almost walked off the podium with the media, because it was accused that he did this on purpose. And again, from my perspective — and I know what went on after he came off the field. Roger — first of all, he’s on another planet when he’s out there — he jammed him, and Mike swung the bat, and he didn’t know where the ball went and he started running because he didn’t know where it was. And Roger picked the bat up and threw it toward our dugout. And I don’t believe he had any intention of throwing the bat at Mike Piazza. He just happened to run in that direction. A lot of people don’t buy it, but that’s my perspective.”
Thursday’s event is raising money for Torre’s Safe at Home Foundation, which helps young people exposed to domestic violence.
Torre is now MLB’s chief baseball officer. And domestic abuse has become more of a hot-button issue in professional sports. Baseball recently instituted a new domestic violence policy, which resulted in suspensions for the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman and the Rockies’ Jose Reyes, now back with the Mets.
Torre applauded the policy for trying to educate and rehabilitate offenders.
“You can say, ‘You did this wrong, so you’re going to have to be disciplined to this degree,’ but unless you know what you’re doing isn’t the right thing to do, what’s to keep it from happening again, God forbid that it does?” the four-time world champion manager said. “The fact of the matter is education is so, so important.”
Torre said his father was physically abusive toward his mother, and that had a role in the future major leaguer having low self-esteem as a child — so low that he didn’t even try out for his high school baseball team as a freshman because he believed he wasn’t good enough.
“It wasn’t until later on in life, believe it or not, that I was able to connect the dots of those feelings I thought I was born with, and I realized that what was going on in my home, the fear that my dad created in our home, was why I had these inadequacies, the way I put it,” Torre said. “And once I found out that that was the reason, again, it wasn’t that I was going to blame my dad; it was the fact that I could talk about it, and I wasn’t embarrassed to talk about it.
Torre said his foundation puts safe rooms in schools where students who are dealing with domestic violence can go.
“We’ve had a number of young people who come in there with a thought of we don’t know what we’re going to do, or are we going to join a street gang?” Torre said. “And they spend some time and we give them sort of an avenue and let them know that it’s not their fault, they’re not alone and the future — you can come out the other end of this thing.”
To listen to the full interview, click on the audio player above.