The charming village of Cooperstown is a buzz for the fast approaching Induction Weekend (July 25-28) kicking off next week. More than four dozen Hall of Famers are scheduled to return to help welcome the Hall of Fame newbies and drones of fans are expected more than ever.
This year’s class is coined the “Super Six” including inductees: “household names” Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank “Big Hurt” Thomas, fellow player-turned-managers: Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa and of course, the Yankees Dynasty Manager…Mr. Joseph Paul Torre, #6. He is the 7th former Yankees manager to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He joins notables: Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy, Bucky Harris and Casey Stengel.
People forget, before his managing days, Torre was a player, like fellow-inductee Bobby Cox. Cox played the hot corner for the Yanks in ’68 and ’69. Our Joe was a utility player and saw time catching (make great managers) and at 1B & 3B.
The 9-time All-Star was a Gold Gloving Brave in the 60s, a Cardinal from ’69-’74 (in ’71 won NL MVP, NL batting champion & NL RBI champion) and a Met from ’75-’77. Fun fact: Joe’s older bro, Frank Torre, played in the 50s and 60s for the Braves and Phillies (so baseball runs in the blood).
After his playing days were left in the rearview, he began managing, a route ex-players tend to take. Luckily, he served as manager of each of the three ball clubs he had played for (Mets ’77-’81, Braves ’82-’84 & Cardinals ’90-’95). Then, he took over for Buck Showalter in ’96 and we all know the story of how that season turned out!
He was no stranger to the city of New York (grew up in Brooklyn, played for and managed “the other NY team”) but was not originally welcomed to the “American League Big Apple” with friendly, open arms. Fans were wary of him and the media gave him a hard time right off the bat (i.e. “Clueless Joe”).
Then, *BADA BING BADA BOOM* Yanks win their first World Series since ’78 and Joe is named AL Manager of the Year (he won in ’98 too). He led the Bombers to 6 pennants and 4 championships in 5 years, which turned this sweet, hefty-nosed Italian-American into a New York hero. He lead the pinstriped pack until 2007, of course, then going on to manage the Dodgers for a couple of years.
His overall managing record is: 2,326-1,997 (.538) and he has racked up: 13 division titles (’82, ’96, ’98-’06 & ’08-’09), 2 wild cards (’97 & ’07), 6 pennants (’96, ’98-’01 & ’03) and 4 World Series titles (’96, ’98-’00). Along for the ride was, the late, great, Don Zimmer (miss ya, Zim!) by his side through it all.
Be sure to venture out to Coop to honor Joe & this year’s HOF class. You better get there early, it’s gonna be a HUGE crowd this year! Visit baseballhall.org for details or tweet me @SueBanger w/ any questions.