Joe Torre Celebrated at Yankee Stadium
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, AUGUST 25- On August 23, Joe Torre Day was celebrated at Yankee Stadium. The 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee was given a double honor by the New York Yankees. A plaque in his honor was unveiled that will be placed in the Yankees’ pantheon of heroes, Monument Park, and Torre’s uniform, while manager of the Yankees, #6, was retired. Torre is the 18th Yankee legend whose uniform number will never be worn again.
The baseball lifer compiled an extraordinary record in his 12 seasons at the helm of the Yankees. He led the Yanks to the playoffs in each of the one dozen years. In six of those years, the Yanks were in the World Series and four times they were the World Champions.
Many of the players he relied upon and encouraged during his Yankee tenure returned to pay tribute to their former manager: David Cone, Hideki Matsui, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Andy Pettitte and Bernie Williams. Members of Torre’s coaching staff who attended were Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry and Jose Cardenal. Mel Stottlmyre, too ill to attend, recorded a video message and the widow of Torre’s dear friend Don Zimmer came. Yankee skipper Joe Girardi and the retiring icon Derek Jeter were, of course, present also.
Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson, two Hall of Fame members of past generations, added the perspective of the Yankees great history by their presence.
Many members of Torre’s immediate family, sisters, wife, children and grandchildren were present to share in his happiness.
Two contemporaries of Torre in the managerial ranks, Jim Leyland and Tony LaRussa were present to show their respect to Torre.
When giving his gracious response to the honor he received from the Yankees, Torre took time to give special words of praise to each of the individuals who attended.
Special words were reserved for Gene “Stick” Michael, “He recommended me to George, I’ll be forever grateful.” Of Steinbrenner, he stated, “George gave me the greatest opportunity I ever had in my professional life.”
Girardi, one of Torre’s players, coaches and his successor as manager of the Yankees, expressed his feelings to reporters one day before the ceremony, “I think it’s obviously well deserved. He meant a ton to this organization. He was good at keeping the noise out letting us do our job. He had the ability to make us feel everything would be all right if we just stuck together.”
Torre explained why he chose #6 when he joined the Yankees. He and his wife turned #9, which he wore as a player, around to #6. Of it being retired on the Yankees, he commented, “When you see the neighborhood you’re in, it’s pretty cool.”
The opinion of the native of Brooklyn on his day in the Bronx, “It was every bit as special as I thought it would be.”
It would be remiss on an article on the Torre tribute not to give credit to Debbie Tymon,the vice president of marketing, for her thoughtfulness, intelligence and effort and that of her staff for the successful planning of each special event at Yankee Stadium. In his remarks, Torre said, “Debbie Tymon does amazing work.”