Joe Torre has had a long and twisting process to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Torre was originally signed in 1959 by the Milwaukee Braves. By the time he enters the Hall as a Yankee, he played for three teams and managed five. According to Torre, the decision to enter Cooperstown as a Yankee was a no-brainer.
“If you told me when I started in the game, when I signed in August 1959, that I’d be going into the Hall of Fame as a New York Yankee..Even though I wasn’t a Yankee fan, I certainly knew what they represented. It’s really a special, special place to be. It’s just a respected franchise, universally and internationally known. It’s a great honor to be going in as a Yankee.”
Torre actually grew up a Giants fan, from when they played in New York. Many fans may not realize how successful his playing career was, spanning 18 seasons for the Braves, Cardinals, and Mets. He won the MVP in 1971 with the Cardinals after leading the league in batting average, hits, and RBI (.363,230,137). Torre owns a career .297 batting average with 252 home runs and 1185 RBI.
Looking back on his managing career, how can anyone forget what he did with the Yankees? His first year at the helm was in 1996 – the first year of the late 90s/early 2000s Yankee dynasty. He managed the club for 12 years, reaching the playoffs 12 times. In addition to the great playoff streak, his Yankees won the World Series in 1996, 98, 99, and 2000, as well as reaching the World Series in 2001 and 2003. The Yankees amassed a 1173-767 regular season record in his time, a .605 winning percentage. That comes to averaging a 98-64 season every year for 12 years.
In 1998, the Yankees went 114-48, winning 125 games including the post-season. The 1998 team is regarded in a very select group as one of the greatest of all-time. It included David Wells’ perfect game, and culminated in a sweep of the San Diego Padres to clinch the World Series.
In 2007, Torre became the first person in Major League history to have 2,000 wins as a manager and 2,000 hits as a player. He concluded his managerial career with 2,326 after finishing the 2010 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Torre is currently the Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations. While he never played as a Yankee and had a large number of stops in his 50-plus years in baseball, going in with a team other than the Yankees would be simply asinine. He had a long successful playing career, but created his legacy with the Bronx Bombers.
Torre will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. When he is, expect Yankee fans to make the trip to upstate New York to show him just how much he will always be loved by the Yankee faithful.