Joe Torre hoped it would happen, but he never dared think it would. The former New York Mets player and manager, who later carved his legacy as four-time World Series manager of the Yankees, was selected to the Hall of Fame today by the veteran’s committee.
The announcement was made at the Walt Disney Swan resort hotel in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Torre will go in with fellow managers Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox. All three won over 2,000 games and World Series titles. All three are incredibly deserving.
Also deserving, but left out were Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, whom Torre said, “changed my life for giving me that opportunity,’’ and Marvin Miller, the former director of the Players Association.
As much as friends told Torre – who currently works in the commissioner’s office – his nomination was a given, he never let his mind wander there.
“That’s what they said when we were up 3-0 against the Red Sox, and looked what happened,’’ said Torre of the Yankees’ infamous collapse in the 2004 ALCS. “As much as I would have liked it not to happen, I never obsessed over it.’’
Torre has little to say about his time with the Mets other than, “I started with the Mets when they weren’t spending anything,’’ and that he wasn’t the manager for two weeks when the club dealt Tom Seaver to Cincinnati.
Torre, a lifetime .297 hitter, finished his playing career and was named manager shortly thereafter.
Torre, who managed the Mets, Yankees, Braves and Cardinals, won 2,326 games, fifth all time, along with six pennants. He wore his 2003 World Series ring.
While he credited Steinbrenner for the opportunity, he saved his greatest gratitude for his players.
“You can’t win the Kentucky Derby unless you are on a thoroughbred,’’ Torre said of the team that won titles in 1996, 1998-2000. “They had so much heart and backbone.’’
Fred Wilpon offered a fitting statement to salute the Mets’ one-time skipper.
“We are thrilled that Joe Torre has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. “Joe has distinguished himself throughout his career both on and off the field. His records and accomplishments as a player and manager speak for themselves. All of us at the Mets salute and congratulate Joe.”
Joe was always one of the classiest people in the game.
Today’s honor is fitting for this baseball giant.
Cox managed the Braves for 25 seasons and the Blue Jays for four seasons. During that span he has guided his teams to five pennants and one World Series (1995, with the Braves). Cox also won 15 division titles including 14, 30 of them in in a row with with the Braves. The 3-time NL Manager of the Year ranks fourth on the all-time list with 2,504 wins.
La Russa has three World Series titles to his credit and is one of two managers to win a championship in each league. He also has six pennants under his belt and ranks third all-time with 2,728 wins.
Torre, a former Met player/manager, has had a distinguished career as a hitter and nine-time All-Star tallying 2,342 hits and 252 home runs while winning the NL MVP in 1972. As a manager, Torre ranks fifth on the all-time wins list with 2,326 victories and has won four World Series.
Cox, La Russa and Torre will be inducted alongside those elected by the BBWAA on Sunday, July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown.
Photo courtesy of the New York Mets.