New York Yankee Legends: Joe Torre is no ordinary Joe, turns 81

Today the New York Yankee legendary manager Joe Torre turns 81 years old. Joe is no ordinary Joe; he played the game with style, he managed the game with rare calmness and went to the top of the baseball world as the chief operating officer of MLB. To say the least, he has had quite a life, and today he celebrates his 81st birthday.

Joe got to the pinnacle of baseball by playing baseball for four teams as a catcher and first baseman. He got there by managing five teams and bringing the New York Yankees six American League pennants and four World Series wins.  He got there by being a calm, thinking baseball mind with a vast knowledge of the game.

On December 9, 2013, Joe Torre was notified that he was to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The long and often painful journey began in 1940 in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn, New York, when he was born the youngest of five to Joe Torre Sr and his mother, Margaret. The Torre household was always tense. His Father often verbally abused Joe. He also abused Joe’s Mother. However, his mother was a loving woman who always tried to stabilize the young Joseph. Later in life, mostly because of his own experience, he found the Safe at Home Foundation for victims of domestic violence.

Joe had a brother Frank that was eight years older than him. Frank played in the Braves organization. Due to the turmoil at home Joe would often turn to his brother for guidance. So baseball was an essential part of Joe’s life from a very early age, and it wasn’t long before he got noticed. Torre had been tearing things up for years and was a favorite of Vincent “Cookie” Lorenzo, who headed up the Sandlot League at Brooklyn’s Parade Grounds for more than 60 years. Lorenzo first noticed Torre in 1954 when the 14-year-old, much shorter than his adult height of 6’ 2”, slammed three doubles in a game umpired by Lorenzo. Lorenzo once commented that Torre was “A fire hydrant, short and stocky, but can he hit.

On August 26, 1958, the young sandlotter from Brooklyn took to New York’s Polo Grounds field. The all-but-deserted former home of the New York Giants was hosting the annual Hearst Sandlot Classic between the U. S. All-Stars and the New York All-Stars. The Brooklyn Cadets of the Kiwanis League were represented by their slugging first baseman, Joe Torre. Unfortunately, the consensus of the 16 scouts was that he was too fat, too slow, and too uncoordinated to play either first or third base. However, that would soon change as his brother told him to switch to catching, and he would get noticed. And that he did. The next summer, he was signed by the Milwaukee Braves.

After two years in the minors, he would play six years with the Milwaukee team, three for the Atlanta club, six with the St. Louis Cards, and another three with the New York Mets. His best years as a catcher were 64, 65, and 66, when he averaged .321, 291, and .315. His best year ever was in 1971 with the Cards when he would drive in 137 while hitting an average of .363. He was named the National League MVP. Thus, you could say that Joe had a relatively unremarkable career as a slightly above-average player that never got a lot of attention. But little did he know at the time his star power would eventually come as a manager, not a player.

In 1977 after playing just 26 games and the Mets coming off their worst record since 1967, manager Frazier was replaced by Joe Torre, with no experience as a coach or manager at any level of organized baseball. His lack of experience managing showed as in his five years managing the Mets. He never got the club above a .419 winning percentage. On August 23, 1981, Joe and several of his coaches were sitting at the bar in Stouffer’s Hotel nursing drinks. Things were slow that night, and Joe saw a young waitress reading a book. Bob Gibson invited her to join them, and that is how Joe met Alice Wolterman. Six years later, to the day, Joe and Ali were married. After the 81season, Joe would be fired by the Mets. In the offseason, he was asked if he would consider managing again. Joe answered, “I’m going to keep doing this until I get it right.” The following season would find him managing the Atlanta Braves.

In his first season, he would take the team to the pennant, the first they had won since 1969. Dale Murphy led the offense, and Phil Niekro led the pitching. They ended up winning the division by one game over the Dodgers. During a deep losing streak that year, Torre was praised for keeping the team calm, confident by his stoic demeanor. They would eventually lose the NLCS to the Cardinals. In the next two seasons, the Braves would come in third and fourth in the division. In 1984 the team would win only 80 games, and Torre was fired again. He would spend the next five seasons doing TV commentary for the Angels.

In 1990 after the sudden resignation of St. Louis manager Whitey Herzog, Joe, who had been field manager, was named manager. Torre had winning records in St. Louis from 1991-93, averaging just under 85 wins and a .523 winning percentage, but did not come close to getting the Reds to the postseason. In 94, the Reds were eight games short of .500. Then, in 1995 would see the baseball strike, which was very hard on the union guy Torre. The players came back in April 1995, but the Cardinals got off to a bad start. They were 20-27 when Torre was fired in mid-June. After his managerial record with three teams less than .500, it looked as though Joe’s career was over.

After the 1995 season ended, there were four managerial candidates for the Yankees manager job, Sparky Anderson, Butch Hobson, Gene Lamont, and Chris Chambliss, or so it appeared. But the “boss” had already made up his mind. On November 2, 1995, much to everyone’s surprise, he announced Joe Torre as the new Yankee manager. So naturally, the media and others said Joe Who? During that winter, he and his wife would attend a self-improvement 4-day seminar. Torre would learn how to compartmentalize different categories and emotions, which would serve him well as a Yankee manager.

In his first year as manager, he would be teamed up with veteran manager Don Zimmer as his bench coach. There was one thing Torre wanted to do, and that was to remove tension from the clubhouse and instill the joy of the game and winning by letting the players play and have fun. Zimmer and Torre would take the team to its first World Series win in eighteen years. In the year, not a single player had 30 or more home runs. So the Yankees became more of a running team, manufacturing runs, stealing bases, and getting runs one at a time to overcome large deficits. The team was so balanced on offense that nobody stood out, and not a single Yankee finished in the top ten for MVP. It was a total team effort orchestrated by Torre. The youngest player on the team, Derek Jeter, was honored with the Rookie of the Year Award.

When the World Series victory was complete, Torre, at Don Zimmer’s suggestion, assembled the players for a victory lap around the field. As pitcher David Cone remembered, “It seemed like we were floating around the field. Joe Torre sort of led us. Guys were floating around the field. Next thing you know, the (police) horses were going nuts, and the fans were reacting wildly. It was almost in slow motion. It was surreal.”  Torre would win the manager of the Year Award.  This would not only be a joist occasion for Joe but a time of great emotional stress.  Not just the pressure of winning but personal stress as his beloved brother underwent a heart transplant during the series.  Frank would watch his brother Joe win the Yankee’s first World Series in eighteen years the day after the operation.

A second World Series Championship win came in 1998, and this time the Yankees roared to the AL East championship with a then American League record 114 wins in what many called the most exceptional Yankee team of the modern era. First, they defeated Texas in the ALDS and Cleveland in the ALCS. Then, they swept the San Diego Padres in the World Series to finish things off. Torre won his second American League Manager of the Year Award in three years. Success was sweet for Zimmer and other coaches as Torre would treat them to the best cigars, the best wines, and the best restaurants.

1999 was the most challenging year for the Yankees. Paul O’Neill, Scott Brosius, and Luis Soho would all lose their fathers during the season. Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio passed away. Catfish Hunter came down with Lou Gehrig’s disease. In spring training, Joe Torre would be diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was caught early, and he completely recovered and only missed the first 36 games of the season. Nevertheless, the Yankees would make the World Series again.  In game four, Paul O’Neill, hours after his father died, would play in the game on the verge of tears, as the Yankees won their second consecutive World Series Championship (another four-game sweep, this time against the Atlanta Braves.) They would make it three straight championships when they defeated their cross-town rival New York Mets in five games in 2000.

The Yankees would not have another World Series win until 2009.  After the 2007 season, Torre’s contract would not be renewed, and former Yankee catcher Joe Girardi replaced him.   The year 2004 would make one of the greatest letdowns in Joe’s managerial career.  He would win the pennant and the division and be up three games to none in the ALCS.  He would then lose the ALCS in four straight games to the rival Boston Red Sox.  That and injuries and poor pitching would eventually lead to his 2007 release.  At the end of the 2007 season, he was given a pay cut and was offered a performance-based contract. Torre would reject the offer. However, Joe would not be out of a job long as he signed an agreement to manage the Los Angles Dodgers.  He would lead the Dodgers for three years and step down as manager in 2010 after losing season.  He was replaced by former Yankee Don Mattingly, his bench coach.   In 2010 Yankee owner George Steinbrenner would die, and on September 20th, the Yankees would honor the “boss” with a monument in Monument Park at Yankee stadium.  Joe Torre, as a sign of his respect, was on hand for the unveiling.

In 2011 Commissioner Bug Selig offered Joe the job of Executive Vice-President of MLB Operations.  A job Joe gladly accepted as he wished to remain involved in managing in some way.  In his role, he would be responsible for all on-field operations, including Umpires, rules, and the changing technology in baseball operations.  His title was changed in 2014 to Chief Baseball Officer, although his duties did not change.  Whenever anything controversial comes up in the game, the media turns to Joe for explanations and consul.

Joe to Yankee fans will always be a Yankee, and Joe reminds them of that with his ever-present visits to Yankee Stadium for almost all significant events. Yankee fans were further reminded of Joe’s love for his time with the Yankees as he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.  His likeness on his plaque in Cooperstown shows Joe wearing his Yankee baseball cap.

In February 2020, at the age of 79, Torre was replaced as head of on-field operations by former pitcher Chris Young. Torre and was reassigned as special assistant to the Commissioner, a position that has far fewer responsibilities.

Joe has been married three times.  First, to Jackie in 1963, they had a son Michael. Then, he was married to his second wife, Dani, in 1968. The pair had two daughters, Luren and Christina.  Both of his first two marriages ended in divorce.  He married his third and present wife in Alice in 1987, and they have a daughter Andrea.   Joe previously lived in Harrison, NY, but he and his wife presently reside at their lakeside home in Mahopac, NY.  Joe, like deceased Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, is also a horse racing enthusiast and horse owner.

Thank you, Joe Torre, for all you have meant to the New York Yankees and for all of your contributions to the game of baseball.

New York Yankees: 3 Major takeaways from series win over the Royals

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Last night the New York Yankees faced the Kansas City Royals on a top 10 weather day at Yankee Stadium. It was an absolutely lovely day for the rubber game, determining who would win the series. It was a day that drew celebrities to watch the Yankees. Ex-manager Joe Torre was on hand, as well as Yankee pitcher Jose Contreras, Godzilla Hideki Matsui, and all-time best Yankee fan Paul Simon. The Yankees won the game in an 8-1 laugher.

Taillon has his best outing of the season

Jameson Taillon came to the New York Yankees in a trade just before spring training in a trade with the Pittsburg Pirates. Taillon hadn’t pitched in almost two years due to two Tommy John surgeries. The Yankees hoped in this risky move that Taillon could return to his previous form and become a solid number three starter for the team.

So far this season, Taillon has become somewhat of a disappointment as he hasn’t returned to that form they hoped for. He has had problems with his command and has mostly failed to put hitters away after two outs. Although he has shown a few bright spots, he has been inconsistent at best. However, last night at the Stadium, he showed that he could pitch deep and put players away. The Yankees hope this is a turning point for Taillon and build on a strong showing. Catcher Gary Sanchez said after the game that Taillon had good command of his pitches and changed up his pitch selection. Taillon got his second win of the season, going 6.1 innings, allowing only one run while striking out six Royals.

Sanchez and Judge on fire again

The oft-criticized catcher Gary Sanchez has done a remarkable turnaround in the last two weeks or so. After nursing a batting average under .200, he now seems like the star he was in 2017. It may be that a minor tweak by hitting coach Marcus Thames in Sanchez’s leg kick may have done the trick. He has seven home runs in his last thirteen games and a now respectable .240 batting average. Also, the good news for the Yankees is that this is not just a few good games; it appears he has found his stride and that it will continue.

Slugger Aaron Judge is a completely different story; he has had a better than average season leading the team in home runs and hitting for contact. But for the last ten days, he has gone into a mini-slump striking out a lot and not hitting for power. Last night that all changed; Judge was on base all five times. Breaking out of that slump last night, he in his first at-bat, he homered into the short porch at Yankee Stadium. He doubled, hit two singles, and also walked on the night. Judge, Sanchez, and Luke Voit all homered in the game.

Torres, Gardner, and Frazier still struggle

The New York Yankees have really turned things around of late, winning seven of their last nine games. This is mostly because the top five in the lineup have been hitting. In this series, the Yankee top five have gone 10 for 22 with four home runs, a double, and eight RBI’s, but all the players haven’t joined the party. Of the top five, only Torres has continued to struggle. The addition of the returning Luke Voit has also added power to the lineup.

Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier haven’t been able to pull it all together this season. Gardner, the 37-year-old veteran holdover from the 2009 World Series team, is batting just .201, with only 2 home runs on the season and a lowly 8 RBI’s. Clint Frazier hoping to add to his 2020 performance, is still playing good defense but is hitting a poultry .188 with five home runs and 14 RBI’s. His poor play has cost him to lose his starting position in left field that he now shares with Miguel Andujar.

 

 

New York Yankees: Opening Week throughout Yankee history

New York Yankees, Babe Ruth

The New York Yankees have an illustrious 119-year history, starting as the Baltimore Orioles.  The Yankees have one of the most successful franchises in all sports. They have 40 American League championships and 27 World Series to their name. Not a day goes by that something important happens; here is a look at this week in Yankee history. I picked this week as it normally was Opening Week, with lots of news:

1913 – In an exhibition game at Ebbets Field, The Yankees lost to the Brooklyn Dodgers 3-2. Player Casey Stengel hit an inside-the-park home run, the first home run ever at Ebbets Field.

1925 – Babe Ruth suffers a collapse at an Ashville, North Carolina train station. The supposed cause was a hot dog and soda binge. He required surgery and missed seven weeks of play.

1934 – Babe Ruth makes more money doing a weekly show for the Quaker Oats company than his weekly Yankee salary.

1973 – Ron Blomberg becomes the first designated hitter. The Yankees become the last team in baseball to do away with fannel uniforms in favor of polyester.

1974 – The Yankees start the renovation of Yankee Stadium and play for the next two years at Shea Stadium until the renovations are complete.

1976 – The Milwaukee team lost to the Yankees 9-7 in a heartbreaking loss for the mid-west team. Don Money blasted a homer into the stands, but Yankee manager raced to the field to claim that a time out had been called. The umpires finally admitted that time had indeed been called, causing the Brewers to lose the game.

1982 – A blizzard caused the postponement of Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. Over a foot of snow blanketed the Stadium with sub-freezing temperatures. The Northeaster storm also caused the postponement of the start of the season for 6 other teams.

1989 – It’s Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, and Tommy John took to the mound for his 26th season, tieing a record. We beat the Twins 4-2. It was John’s 287th win.

1994 – The New York Yankees have their largest ever attendance at Yankee Stadium. 56,706 attended Opening Day.

2003 – On Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, it was 35 degrees at game time. Newly acquired, Hideki Matsui got his first hit at the Stadium, a massive Grand Slam into the right-field bleachers. There were as many Japanese reporters at the Stadium as American ones.

2004 – New York Yankees manager Joe Torre agree to a 3-year contract extension. Torre won four World Series titles, all before this extension. Joe Girardi took over for Torre in 2008.

2009 – The New Yankee Stadium opens one block north of the old Stadium that “Ruth built” in the Bronx borough of New York City. The new stadium, the second-largest in MLB was funded with $1.6 billion of taxpayer money and $1 billion of private investment. The old Stadium was razed and is now a public park called Heritage Field.

2010 – Forbes Magazine reported that the Yankee franchise was worth approximately $1.6 billion, more than twice any other team. This was one year after the New Yankee Stadium opened on April 2, 2009.

2014 – Yangervis Solarte, Yankees’ third baseman, became the first player in MLB history to hit 6 doubles in his career’s first seven games.

2015 – The New York Yankees play the longest game in franchise history. The date was April 10, 2015, in a game the Yankees lost to the rival Boston Red Sox after 17 innings that took six hours and 49 minutes. It was called by many, the game that never ended.

Many of the facts for this article come from Nationalpastime.com. EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

New York Yankees Top 10’s: Examining the top ten best Yankee managers

New York Yankees, Joe Torre

The New York Yankees, in their illustrious 119-year history, since they were the Baltimore Orioles, have had some of the most impactful players, some of the greatest games played, and some outstanding managers.  In my Top 10 columns, I have covered almost everything Yankees except for the Yankee managers.  Today we delve into the subject of who was the best Yankee manager of all time.  In my biased selection, I have considered tenure, winning percentage, how many World Championships they recorded, and their ability to develop players.

The Yankees have had 35 managers over the years, some for a long duration, and some that didn’t even manage a season.  Some managed more than once in different years.  Billy Martin managed five times. In one year, he was fired and hired back again by owner George M. Steinbrenner.  Dick Houser managed for two stints, but only one game in one season.  The worst ever Yankee manager was Kid Elberfeld in 1908; he won only 27 games as Yankee manager.  The Yankees have only had a losing percentage in 13 seasons, the best record in baseball.

10. Bucky Harris 1947-1948

Bucky Harris only managed the Yankees for two years.  But in his two years, he brought the Yankees to four playoff wins and a World Championship with his .620 winning percentage during his tenure.  Only six other managers had a better winning percentage.

9. Joe Girardi 2008-2017

Joe Girardi was an average hitter but an excellent game caller as a catcher for the New York Yankees. He caught Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter and David Cone’s perfect game. In 2006 he took over the management of the lowly Florida Marlins and brought them to heights they had never experienced.  He was named MLB manager of the year. In 2008 he took over managing the Yankees; his hard-nosed style brought the Yankees to their last World Championship in his second year of management.  Girardi had a kind heart but was a demanding manager.  He lost his job because many of the new baby bombers couldn’t adjust to his management style.  But that style gave him a winning percentage of .562 with 28 playoff wins.  That’s the most playoff wins than 32 other Yankee managers.

8. Aaron Boone 2018-present

Aaron Boone has not won a World Series in his three years of New York Yankee management, but he places number 8 on this list for winning the most wins in his first two-year tutelage than any other manager that has managed for only two years.  He also had 103 wins in 2019 while having more injured players than any other Yankee baseball season.  He also has had the youngest players to mentor.  As the years’ pass, Boone may still rise above his number 8 placement.

7. Billy Martin (various)

Billy Martin is undoubtedly the most controversial Yankee manager being hired and fired five times by Yankee Owner George Steinbrenner.  He also oversaw the “Bronx Zoo,” a great upheaval period in the clubhouse that has spawned books on the rivalries and fights.  Billy was known as “Casey’s Boy,” a favored player by manager Casey Stengel.  Martin managed five different teams before his death in 1989.  He last managed for the Yankees in 1978.  Many fans liked his confrontational type of management, particularly his penchant for arguing with umpires. Martin won only one World Championship for the Yankees but had a .590 winning percentage.

6. Bob Lemon 1978-1979

Bob Lemon replaced Billy Martin in his final exit as Yankee manager.  Lemon’s quiet demeanor was in sharp contrast to Martin’s management style and restored some sense of order to the team and clubhouse.  In 1978 he won his only World Series Ring.  Although only managing for a year and a half, his .617 winning percentage coincidently places him number six all-time for the Yankees and sixth on this list.

5. Ralph Houk 1961-1963

Ralph Houk is another two-year manager in Yankee history.  Houk has the distinction of having the best winning percentage of any Yankee manager. In his two years, he had a .637 winning percentage.   He is also fourth on the list of World Championship managers to two to his credit.    In his two-plus years, he also won the AL pennant three times.  He was quick-tempered, but at the same time, he was known for being a “player’s manager.” He was just as quick to protect his players and was ejected 45 times for doing so.  Houk also managed from 1966-1973 far less successfully.

4. Miller Huggins 1918-1929

Miller Huggins is tied with Joe Torre for each having an eleven-year tenure as Yankee Manager.  Although with the 162 game season, Torre has 150 more games. Huggins had a .594 winning percentage and won 3 World Series for the Yankees.  Much of what is remembered about Huggins is that he had the “Murder’s Row” teams of the ’20s.  Huggins did not initially want the job because the Yankees were a lousy team but eventually was convinced to take the job.  He was all about the fundamentals of baseball and made immediate personnel changes. His all-business approach took the Yankees to their first two World Series.

3. Joe McCarthy 1931-1946

Joe McCarthy has the distinction of being the longest-tenured Yankee manager, managing the team for sixteen years.  He is tied for the most World Series wins (7) with Casey Stengel to his credit.  He is lower on this list due to making the accomplishment in 500 more games.  His winning percentage of .627 is tied with Aaron Boone.  His most successful years were between 1936 to 1943, while he racked up seven pennants in eight years.  His detractors say he was only valid because he had fantastic players like pitchers Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing. He also had Bill Dickey, Frank Crosetti, Joe DiMaggio, and Charlie Keller on his roster. He is one of the few baseball managers that never played in the Major Leagues. Joe McCarthy was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1957.

2. Joe Torre 1996-2007

Joe Torre is my pick for the second-best New York Yankee manager ever.  He had four World Series wins in his eleven-year managership.  That’s one more than Miller Huggins and with an impressive 76 playoff wins, to Huggins eighteen.  Torre is one of the winningest managers in the postseason than any manager in baseball.  Torre had a .605 winning percentage for 8th on the all-time list. Torre had a calming effect on the team as he was reticent and seldom criticized players unless it was in private.  Torres won four Championships in five years, in a time that was called the last Yankee Dynasty.  The now 80-year-old Torre would go on to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.  He served as MLB executive for baseball operations. He is now a special assistant to the baseball commissioner.

1. Casey Stengel

Casey Stengel is my pick for the best-ever New York Yankee manager.  The seven-time World Champion has the third-highest winning percentage in Yankee history. He accomplished his seven-wins in 500 fewer games than the tying Joe McCarthy.  He also won the second-most playoff wins, second only to Joe Torre.

The glory days of Casey’s management would begin along with the future dynasty of the Yankees. Stengel tried to keep a low profile during the 1949 Yankee spring training. Still, there was considerable media attention as Stengel shuttled rookies from one position on the field to another and endlessly shuffled his lineup. He had the advantage of diminished expectations, like DiMaggio, the Yankee superstar, was injured few picked New York to win the pennant. Gaining media attention and not wanting the media to know what he was doing, he started his “Stangleaze,” the ability to talk to the media, answer questions and leave the media wondering what he actually said.

In the 1949 World Series, Stengel’s first as a participant since 1923, the Yankees faced the Brooklyn Dodgers; The Yankees would win the series in five games. In 1949 he was Manager of the Year, and his low-key days were over. In the years to follow, the Yankees would win the Series in 1950-51-52-53, a five-time consecutive World Series streak that would not be repeated ever in baseball. After not winning in 54 or 55, the Yankees would again win in 1956. In 1958 the World Series was again against the Dodgers, who won the first two games at Ebbets Field. Stengel lectured the team before Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, and the team responded with a victory then and in Game 4.

For Game 5, Stengel pitched Don Larsen, who had been knocked out of Game 2, and who responded with a perfect game, the only one in major league postseason history. The Yankees took the series in seven games, their seventh World Series win under Stengel, making him the most World Series winner.  Stengel was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.

Casey Stengel is one of the few managers in all of baseball to testify before Congress.  During baseball anti-trust hearings, Stengel used his “Stengeleaze” to filibuster famous anti-mob Senator Estes Kefauver.  His testimony frustrated and confused the Senate, much to the Senate gallery’s delight that often laughed during the proceedings.  I have chosen the interview below as an example of “Stangeleaze.”

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam

Former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre is still “nervous” about COVID-19 pandemic

New York Yankees, Joe Torre

Joe Torre is part of a rich tradition of winning managers of the New York Yankees‘ franchise. After all, he was the leader of the late-90s dynasty that won four World Series in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.

That’s why his voice is, and should always be, important to the Yankees community. This time, he raised it to let people know he’s concerned about public safety because of the coronavirus pandemic that is not only ongoing, but is starting to grow in cases, once again.

“I’m nervous and I’m nervous based on just the pandemic,” Torre said in a telephone interview with Newsday. “Any baseball we can have is a bonus for us, but it’s a time we’ve never dealt with .. and we have no idea when it’s going to end. I look forward to this baseball season, but it’s with a ‘I hope everybody’s going to be okay’ [mindset]. … Baseball will survive. Baseball will find a way to be flexible enough to still be there for people. I just hope when we’re able to play we’re seeing the game the way it was meant to be played.”

The Yankees will open the season in Washington

The league will begin its season on July 23 with an attractive duel featuring the current World Series champions, the Washington Nationals, facing the New York Yankees in the nation’s capital city.

Regarding the place in history of the team that ends up winning it all in 2020, Torre believes that “people may look back on it and say somebody stole one. But I don’t think anybody’s going to judge it ‘til they look back on the season and possibly think it should have an asterisk. One thing about our game is that when you played 154 (games) or 162 (games), the best teams got to the postseason. … But it’s going to be a real postseason with tough games you have to win – if and when we get started.”

New York Yankees: Top 10 Yankee Managers, who was the best?

New York Yankees, Joe Torre

The New York Yankees in their illustrious 119-year history since they were the Baltimore Orioles have had some of the most impactful players, some of the greatest games played and some outstanding managers.  In my Top 10 columns, I have covered most everything Yankees with the exception of the Yankee managers.  Today we delve into the subject of who was the best Yankee manager of all time.  In my biased selection, I have considered tenure, winning percentage, how many World Championships they recorded, and their ability to develop players.

The Yankees have had 35 managers over the years, some for a long duration, and some that didn’t even manage a season.  Some managed more than once in different years.  Billy Martin managed five times. In one year, he was fired and hired back again by owner George M. Steinbrenner.  Dick Houser managed for two stints, but only one game in one season.  The worst ever Yankee manager was Kid Elberfeld in 1908; he won only 27 games as Yankee manager.  The Yankees have only had a losing percentage in 13 seasons, the best record in baseball.

10. Bucky Harris 1947-1948

Bucky Harris only managed the Yankees for two years.  But in his two years, he brought the Yankees to four playoff wins and a World Championship with his .620 winning percentage during his tenure.  Only six other managers had a better winning percentage.

9. Joe Girardi 2008-2017

Joe Girardi was an average hitter but an excellent game caller as a catcher for the New York Yankees. He caught Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter and David Cone’s perfect game. In 2006 he took over the management of the lowly Florida Marlins and brought them to heights they had never experienced.  He as named MLB manager of the year. In 2008 he took over managing the Yankees, his hard-nosed style brought the Yankees to their last World Championship in his second year of management.  Girardi had a kind heart but was a demanding manager.  He lost his job because many of the new baby bombers couldn’t adjust to his style of management.  But that style gave him a winning percentage of .562 with 28 playoff wins.  That’s the most playoff wins than 32 other Yankee managers.

8. Aaron Boone 2018-present

Aaron Boone has not won a World Series in his two years of New York Yankee management, but he places number 8 on this list for winning the most wins in his two-year tutelage than any other manager that has managed for only two years.  He also had 103 wins in 2019 while having more injured players than any other Yankee baseball season.  He also has had the youngest players to mentor.  As the year’s pass, Boone may still rise above his number 8 placement.

7. Billy Martin (various)

Billy Martin is undoubtedly the most controversial Yankee manager being hired and fired five times by Yankee Owner George Steinbrenner.  He also oversaw the “Bronx Zoo,” a period of great upheaval in the clubhouse that has spawned books on the rivalries and fights.  Billy was known as “Casey’s Boy,” a favored player by manager Casey Stengel.  Martin managed five different teams before his death in 1979.  He last managed for the Yankees in 1978.  Many fans liked his confrontational type of management, particularly his penchant for arguing with umpires. Martin won only one World Championship for the Yankees but had a .590 winning percentage.

6. Bob Lemon 1978-1979

Bob Lemon replaced Billy Martin in his final exit as Yankee manager.  Lemon’s quiet demeanor was in sharp contrast to Martin’s management style and restored some sense of order to the team and clubhouse.  In 1978 he won his only World Series Ring.  Although only managing for a year and a half his .617 winning percentage coincidently places him number six all-time for the Yankees and sixth on this list.

5. Ralph Houk 1961-1963

Ralph Houk is another two-year manager in Yankee history.  Houk has the distinction of having the best winning percentage of any Yankee manager. In his two years, he had a .637 winning percentage.   He is also fourth on the list of World Championship managers to two to his credit.    In his two-plus years, he also won the AL pennant three times.  He was quick-tempered, but at the same time, he was known for being a “player’s manager.” He was just as quick to protect his players and was ejected 45 times for doing so.  Houk also managed from 1966-1973 far less successfully.

4. Miller Huggins 1918-1929

Miller Huggins is tied with Joe Torre for each having an eleven-year tenure as Yankee Manager.  Although with the 162 game season, Torre has 150 more games. Huggins had a .594 winning percentage and won 3 World Series for the Yankees.  Much of what is remembered about Huggins is that he had the “Murder’s Row” teams of the ’20s.  Huggins did not initially want the job because the Yankees were a lousy team but eventually was convinced to take the job.  He was all about the fundamentals of baseball and made immediate personnel changes. His all-business approach took the Yankees to their first two World Series.

3. Joe McCarthy 1931-1946

Joe McCarthy has the distinction of being the longest-tenured Yankee manager, managing the team for sixteen years.  To his credit, he is tied for the most World Series wins (7) with Casey Stengel.  He is lower on this list due to making the accomplishment in 500 more games.  His winning percentage .627 is tied with Aaron Boone.  His most successful years were between 1936 to 1943 while he racked up seven pennants in eight years.  Because of that, his detractors say he was only valid because he had fantastic players like pitchers Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing. He also had Bill Dickey, Frank Crosetti, Joe DiMaggio and Charlie Keller on his roster. He is one of the few baseball managers that never played in the Major Leagues. Joe McCarthy was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1957.

2. Joe Torre 1996-2007

Joe Torre is my pick for the second-best New York Yankee manager ever.  He had four World Series win in his eleven-year managership.  That’s one more than Miller Huggins and with an impressive 76 playoff wins, to Huggins eighteen.  Torre is one of the winningest managers in the postseason than any manager in baseball.  Torre had a .605 winning percentage for 8th on the all-time list. Torre had a very calming effect on the team as he was very quiet and seldom criticized players unless it was in private.  Torres won four Championships in five years, in a time that was called the last Yankee Dynasty.  The now 79-year-old Torre would go on to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.  He served as MLB executive for baseball operations. He is now special assistant to the baseball commissioner.

1. Casey Stengel

Casey Stengel is my pick for the best-ever New York Yankee manager.  The seven-time World Champion has the third-highest winning percentage in Yankee history. He accomplished his seven-wins in 500 fewer games than the tying Joe McCarthy.  He also won the second-most playoff wins second only to Joe Torre.

The glory days of Casey’s management would begin along with the future dynasty of the Yankees. Stengel tried to keep a low profile during the 1949 Yankee spring training. Still, there was considerable media attention as Stengel shuttled rookies from one position on the field to another and endlessly shuffled his lineup. He had the advantage of diminished expectations, like DiMaggio, the Yankee superstar, was injured few picked New York to win the pennant. Gaining media attention and not wanting the media to know what he was doing, he started his “Stangleaze”, the ability to talk to the media, answer questions and leave the media wondering what he actually said.

In the 1949 World Series, Stengel’s first as a participant since 1923, the Yankees faced the Brooklyn Dodgers; The Yankees would win the series in five games. In 1949 he was Manager of the Year, and his low key days were over. In the years to follow, the Yankees would win the Series in 1950-51-52-53, a five-time consecutive World Series streak that would not be repeated ever in baseball. After not winning in 54 or 55, the Yankees would again win in 1956. In 1958 the World Series was again against the Dodgers, who won the first two games at Ebbets Field. Stengel lectured the team before Game 3 at Yankee Stadium, and the team responded with a victory then and in Game 4.

For Game 5, Stengel pitched Don Larsen, who had been knocked out of Game 2, and who responded with a perfect game, the only one in major league postseason history. The Yankees took the series in seven games, their seventh World Series win under Stengel, making him the all-time winner of the most World Series.  Stengel was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.

Casey Stengel is one of the few managers in all of baseball to testify before Congress.  During baseball anti-trust hearings, Stengel used his “Stengeleaze” to filibuster famous anti-mob Senator Estes Kefauver.  His testimony frustrated and confused the Senate, much to the delight of the Senate gallery that often laughed during the proceedings.  I have chosen the interview below as an example of “Stangeleaze.”

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

Yankees: From backstop to MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer, he’s no ordinary Joe!

New York Yankees, Joe Torre

Joe Torre is Major League Baseball’s chief baseball officer since 2011. He got there by playing baseball for four teams as a catcher and first baseman. He got there by managing five teams and bringing the New York Yankees six American League pennants and four World Series wins.  He got there by being a calm, thinking baseball mind with a vast knowledge of the game.

On December 9, 2013, Joe Torre was notified that he was to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The long and often painful journey began in 1940 in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn, New York when he was born the youngest of five to Joe Torre Sr and his mother, Margaret. The Torre household was always tense. His Father often verbally abused Joe. He also abused Joe’s Mother. His mother was a loving woman who always tried to stabilize the young Joseph. Later in life, mostly because of his own experience, he would found the Safe at Home Foundation for victims of domestic violence.

Joe had a brother Frank that was eight years older than him. Frank played in the Braves organization. Due to the turmoil at home Joe would often turn to his brother for guidance. Baseball was an essential part of Joe’s life from a very early age, and it wasn’t long before he got noticed. Torre had been tearing things up for years and was a favorite of Vincent “Cookie” Lorenzo, who headed up the Sandlot League at Brooklyn’s Parade Grounds for more than 60 years. Lorenzo first noticed Torre in 1954 when the 14-year-old, much shorter than his adult height of 6’ 2”, slammed three doubles in a game being umpired by Lorenzo. Lorenzo once commented that Torre was “A fire hydrant, short and stocky, but can he hit.

On August 26, 1958, the young sandlotter from Brooklyn took to the field at New York’s Polo Grounds. The all-but-deserted former home of the New York Giants was hosting the annual Hearst Sandlot Classic between the U. S. All-Stars and the New York All-Stars. The Brooklyn Cadets of the Kiwanis League were represented by their slugging first baseman, Joe Torre. The consensus of the 16 scouts there was that he was too fat, too slow, and too uncoordinated to play either first or third base. That would soon change as his brother told him to switch to catching, and he would get noticed. And that he did. The next summer, he was signed by the Milwaukee Braves.

After two years in the minors, he would play six years with the Milwaukee team, three for the Atlanta club, six with the St. Louis Cards, and another three with the New York Mets. His best years as a catcher were in 64, 65, and 66 when he averaged .321, 291, and .315. His best year ever was in 1971 with the Cards when he would drive in 137 while hitting an average of .363. He was named the National League MVP. You could say that Joe had a relatively unremarkable career as a slightly above average player that never got a lot of attention. But little did he know at the time his star power would eventually come as a manager, not a player.

In 1977 after playing just 26 games and the Mets coming off their worst record since 1967, manager Frazier was replaced by Joe Torre, with no experience as a coach or manager at any level of organized baseball. His lack of experience managing showed as in his five years managing the Mets. He never got the club above a .419 winning percentage. On August 23, 1981,  Joe and several of his coaches were sitting at the bar in Stouffer’s Hotel nursing drinks. Things were slow that night, and Joe saw a young waitress reading a book. Bob Gibson invited her to join them, and that is how Joe met Alice Wolterman. Six years later, to the day, Joe and Ali were married.  After the 81season, Joe would be fired by the Mets. In the offseason, he was asked if he would consider managing again. Joe answered, “I’m going to keep doing this until I get it right.” The following season would find him managing the Atlanta Braves.

In his first season, he would take the team to the pennant, the first they had won since 1969. The offense was led by Dale Murphy and the pitching led by Phil Niekro. They ended up winning the division by one game over the Dodgers. During a deep losing streak that year, Torre was praised by keeping the team calm, confident by his stoic demeanor. They would eventually lose the NLCS to the Cardinals. In the next two seasons, the Braves would come in third and fourth in the division. In 1984 the team would win only 80 games, and Torre was fired again. He would spend the next five seasons doing TV commentary for the Angels.

In 1990 after the sudden resignation of St. Louis manager Whitey Herzog, Joe, who had been field manager, was named manager. Torre had winning records in St. Louis from 1991-93, averaging just under 85 wins and a .523 winning percentage, but did not come close to getting the Reds to the postseason. In 94, the Reds were eight games short of .500. 1995 would see the baseball strike, which was very hard on the union guy Torre. The players came back in April 1995, but the Cardinals got off to a bad start. They were 20-27 when Torre was fired in mid-June. After his managerial record with three teams less than .500, it looked as though Joe’s career was over.

After the 1995 season ended, there were four managerial candidates for the Yankees manager job, Sparky Anderson, Butch Hobson, Gene Lamont, and Chris Chambliss, or so it appeared. But the “boss” had already made up his mind. On November 2, 1995, much to everyone’s surprise, he announced Joe Torre as the new Yankee manager. The media and others said Joe Who? During that winter, he and his wife would attend a self-improvement 4-day seminar. Torre would learn how to compartmentalize different categories and emotions, that would serve him well as Yankee manager.

In his first year as New York Yankees manager, he would be teamed up with veteran manager Don Zimmer as his bench coach. There was one thing Torre wanted to do, and that was to remove tension from the clubhouse and instill the joy of the game and winning by letting the players play and have fun. Zimmer and Torre would take the team to its first World Series win in eighteen years. In the year, not a single player had 30 or more home runs. So the Yankees became more of a running team, manufacturing runs, stealing bases, and getting runs one at a time, at times to overcome large deficits. The team was so balanced on offense that nobody stood out, and not a single Yankee finished in the top ten for MVP. It was a total team effort orchestrated by Torre. The youngest player on the team, Derek Jeter, was honored with the Rookie of the Year Award.

When the World Series victory was complete, Torre, at Don Zimmer’s suggestion, assembled the players for a victory lap around the field. As pitcher David Cone remembered, “It seemed like we just floating around the field. Joe Torre sort of led us. Guys were floating around the field. Next thing you know, the (police) horses were going nuts, and the fans were reacting wildly. It was almost in slow motion. It was surreal.”  Torre would win the manager of the Year Award.  This would not only be a joist occasion for Joe but a time of great emotional stress.  Not just the pressure of winning but personal stress as his beloved brother underwent a heart transplant during the series.  The day after the operation, Frank would watch his brother Joe win the Yankees first World Series in eighteen years.

A second World Series Championship win came in 1998, and this time the Yankees roared to the AL East championship with a then American League record 114 wins in what many called the most exceptional Yankee team of the modern era. They defeated Texas in the ALDS and Cleveland in the ALCS. They swept the San Diego Padres in the World Series to finish things off. Torre won his second American League Manager of the Year Award in three years. Success was sweet for Zimmer and other coaches as Torre would treat them to the best cigars, the best wines, and the best restaurants.

1999 was the most challenging year for the Yankees. Paul O’Neill, Scott Brosius, and Luis Soho would all lose their fathers during the season. Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio passed away. Catfish Hunter came down with Lou Gehrig’s disease. In spring training, Joe Torre would be diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was caught early, and he completely recovered and only missed the first 36 games of the season. The Yankees would make the World Series again.  In game four, Paul O’Neill hours after his father died, would play in the game on the verge of tears, as the Yankees won their second consecutive World Series Championship (another four-game sweep, this time against the Atlanta Braves.) They would make it three straight championships when they defeated their cross-town rival New York Mets in five games in 2000.

The Yankees would not have another World Series win until 2009.  After the 2007 season, Torre’s contract would not be renewed, and former Yankee catcher Joe Girardi replaced him.   The year 2004 would make one of the greatest letdowns in Joe’s managerial career.  He would win the pennant and the division and be up three games to none in the ALCS.  He would then lose the ALCS in four straight games to the rival Boston Red Sox.  That and injuries and poor pitching would eventually lead to his 2007 release.  At the end of the 2007 season, he was given a pay cut and was offered a performance-based contract. Torre would reject the offer.   Joe would not be out of a job for long as he signed an agreement to manage the Los Angles Dodgers.  He would lead the Dodgers for three years and step down as manager in 2010 after having a losing season.  He was replaced by former Yankee Don Mattingly, his bench coach.   In 2010 Yankee owner George Steinbrenner would die, and on September 20th, the Yankees would honor the “boss” with a monument in Monument Park at Yankee stadium.  Joe Torre, as a sign of his respect, was on hand for the unveiling.

In 2011 Commissioner Bug Selig offered Joe the job of Executive Vice-President of MLB Operations.  A job Joe gladly accepted as he wished to remain involved in managing in some way.  In his role, he would be responsible for all on-field operations, to include Umpires, rules, and the changing technology in baseball operations.  His title was changed in 2014 to Chief Baseball Officer, although his duties did not change.  Whenever anything controversial comes up in the game, the media turns to Joe for explanations and consul.   Joe to Yankee fans will always be a Yankee, and Joe reminds them of that with his everpresent visits to Yankee Stadium for almost all significant events. Yankee fans were further reminded of Joe’s love for his time with the Yankees as he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.  His likeness on his plaque in Cooperstown, shows Joe wearing his Yankee baseball cap.

Joe has been married three times.  First, to Jackie in 1963, they had a son Michael.  He was married to his second wife, Dani, in 1968. The pair had two daughters, Luren and Christina.  Both of his first two marriages ended in divorce.  He married his third and present wife in Alice in 1987, and they have a daughter Andrea.   Joe previously lived in Harrison, NY, but he and his wife presently reside at their lakeside home in Mahopac, NY.  Joe, like deceased Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, is also a horse racing enthusiast and horse owner.

Thank you, Joe, for all the memories!