Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as manager of the Yankees which led to him taking his spot in Cooperstown on Sunday afternoon.
“I might as well cut to the chase — I’m here because of the New York Yankees,” Torre said during a 28-minute Hall of Fame speech that closed out a day also inducting players Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas, as well as fellow managers Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox.
Torre was 2,326-1,997 as a manager, but never better than from 1996 to 2007 in the Bronx. He won four World Series, six American League pennants, two AL Manager of the Year awards and had a .605 winning percentage for the Yankees.
Torre thanked all of the particulars from his amazing run in New York: longtime bench coach Don Zimmer and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, coaches Willie Randolph and Lee Mazzilli and former players like Mariano Rivera, who he joked turned him from a Frank Sinatra fan to a Metallica fan.
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“I’ve always been a Sinatra fan, but after 12 years with Mariano Rivera, Metallica sounds pretty good to me,” Torre said.
Torre acknowledged how close he came to making the Hall as a player. He batted .297 with 252 career homers and made nine All-Star Games mostly as a catcher.
“A lot of the guys back there kept me out of the Hall of Fame as a player,” Torre joked, pointing to the fellow Hall of Famers onstage. “Try hitting against those guys.”
Torre, who played for and later managed the Mets, also joked about his part in one of the most infamous trades in New York history, dealing Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.
“Once I became manager on May 31, 1977, my first bit of duty was to trade Tom Seaver two weeks later, which wasn’t a whole lot of fun,” Torre said. “And the last time he pitched for me, he pitched in Houston, and when I went to take him out of the game, he patted me on the rear.”