Biographies - Joe Torre
Image Source: Joe Torre @ Wikipedia
|Joe Torre |
|Born: July 18, 1940|
Manager of the New York Yankees and a former Major League Baseball player in the National League for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, and New York Mets (1960-77).
Breaking into the majors with the Braves in 1960 (his brother Franks last season with that club), he played primarily as a catcher but also played first base. He was named an All-Star from 1963 to 1967, and won a Gold Glove Award in 1965. On March 17, 1969 he was traded to the Cardinals in exchange for Orlando Cepeda, who had been the league MVP only two seasons earlier. The Cardinals, already having Tim McCarver at catcher and grooming Ted Simmons as his successor, needed Torres potent bat in the lineup more than his presence behind the plate, and made him their regular first baseman. McCarvers trade to the Philadelphia Phillies after the season led Torre to do the bulk of the teams catching in 1970, but by the following year, Simmons was ready and Torre was moved to third base.
The 1971 season saw Torres play reach its highest level; he led the NL in two triple crown categories - RBIs (137) and batting average (.363) - as well as hits and total bases, and was named the NLs Most Valuable Player.
Torre received four more All-Star selections (1970-1973) while with the Cardinals. Following the 1974 season, he was traded to the Mets. On July 21, 1975, he set the NL record for most double plays grounded into in a single game, 4.
In May 1977, Mets Manager Joe Frazier was fired. Frazier had been the Mets manager since the beginning of 1976. To replace Frazier, Torre, who was playing third base for the Mets since he came over from the Cardinals before the 1974 season, was chosen. Because he believed he could not do the job properly while still playing, he decided to retire at age 37. He closed his 18-year career with a .297 batting average and 252 home runs, 1185 RBIs and 2,342 hits.
He managed the Mets through the 1981 season, but was unable to post a winning season.
He then took over as manager of the Braves, leading them to the NL Western Division title in his first season (1982), before slipping to second place in 1983, and third place in 1984.
In 1990, Torre was hired to manage the Cardinals. There he posted a mediocre 351-354 record, but the team was unable to reach the playoffs, and Torre was fired in mid-1995.
Joe Torre returning to the dugout in September 2005. Torre was named manager of the Yankees on November 2, 1995. Though he had never played or managed in the American League, and the New York City press greeted him with headlines such as "Clueless Joe," it was with the Yankees that he enjoyed the greatest success of his managerial career, leading the "Bronx Bombers" to the playoffs in each of his eleven seasons (1996-2006) with the club. In 1996, Torre, building on the Yankees wild-card berth in 1995, made his first-ever trip to the Fall Classic, leading the Yankees to their first World Series since 1981, defeating the Braves. After losing to the Cleveland Indians in the AL playoffs in 1997, the team won three straight World Series titles from 1998-2000, and additional American League pennants in 2001 and 2003. On May 12, 2003, he won his 1,500th game. On May 8, 2005, Torre reached 900 career wins as manager of the New York Yankees and on May 7, 2006, he became the fourth Yankee manager to achieve 1,000 wins as a Yankee manager.
The 1998 season was Torres most successful. Despite a slow start that included losing four of the first five games of the season, the Yankees set a then-American League record of 114 regular season wins, including David Wellss perfect game on May 17. During the playoffs, the Yankees easily bested the Texas Rangers, fought off a major challenge from the Cleveland Indians for the AL pennant, and swept the San Diego Padres in the World Series. Torre won Manager of the Year honors, and the 1998 team is now widely regarded as one of the greatest baseball teams, along with the Yankee teams of 1927, 1939 and 1961, the 1929 Philadelphia Athletics, and the 1976 Cincinnati Reds. When ESPN launched its Whos #1? series on June 15, 2004, the 1998 Yankees topped the networks list of Best Teams over the years 1979 to 2003.
However, during the 2006 season, major injuries to star players such as Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui, minor injuries to almost the whole team, the need to play on a regular basis rookies/second year players (Chien-Ming Wang, Melky Cabrera and Robinson Can�) as well as former greats who are slowing down (Bernie Williams), inconsistent pitching from needed starters such as Randy Johnson, an inconsistent core of relief pitching, and no performace at all from 2005 pitching saviors, Shawn Chac�n, who was traded on July 31st, and Aaron Small, sent back to the minors early in the season, (and the continued missing status of oft-injured pitchers Carl Pavano and Octavio Dotel) all could have lead to a Yankee collapse but in mid-September the team clinched the AL East title. A combination of smart call-ups and signings, pinch hitting and pinch running, bullpen use, and right on-field calls have seemed to have created a great team from what could have been ashes. This style of play is commonly called "NL Style" (National League) or "small ball", whereas the Yankees of 2005 relied on overwhelming offensive power. Torre is challenging the old belief that the Yankees of the 1990s could have won without his efforts as a manager, and is showing that his manegerial skills do, indeed, help the Yankees win.
His success as Yankee manager is generally credited as much as to his patience with owner George Steinbrenner as it is to his baseball knowledge; he is the longest-tenured Yankee manager during Steinbrenners ownership of the team.
It has been debated whether Torres playing career rose to the level of Hall of Fame caliber, though the general consensus is that he was just slightly below the elite level of skill deserving of election. His accomplishments as the Yankees manager, though, almost certainly will lead to his induction as a manager upon his retirement.
After leaving the Braves in 1984, Torre worked in broadcasting in the late 1980s before being asked to manage the Cardinals in mid-1990. While working as a guest analyst for ESPN during the 1989 World Series, Torre was on hand for the infamous Loma Prieta earthquake (October 17, 1989).
In addition to baseball, Torre is an avid thoroughbred horse racing enthusiast. He is a part owner of "Sis City" who had been the dominant 3-year-old filly in 2005 until finishing fourth in the May 6 Kentucky Oaks. However, a few weeks later on June 26, "Wild Desert," in which Torre is also a partner, won the $1 million Queens Plate, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.
Torre was treated for prostate cancer in 1999.
On December 14, 2005, Torre carried the Olympic Torch in Florence, Italy, running it 400 yards, ending at the world famous Ponte Vecchio bridge.
He is known for letting one of his star players become the manager in the last regular season game, providing that nothing is on the line (Bernie Williams was the manager for the Yankees last regular season game in 2006, as the Yankees had already clinched the AL East title by that point).