* Tim McCarver, Hall of Fame broadcaster, said the only surprise amongst manager Joe Torre's friends was that Torre was not a managerial success before he took over the New York Yankees. .... 2014 Canadians drafted … Canadians in Minors … Canadians in college summer ball …. Canadians in College
By Bob Elliott
The New York Daily News headline on Nov. 3, 1995 read:
“CLUELESS JOE - Torre has no idea what he’s getting into”
Owner George Steinbrenner made 22 managerial changes among 13 different men in his first 21 years before hiring Torre, who managed the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals for 14 seasons advancing to post-season play once. His Braves were eliminated without winning a game in 1982.
Yet, while Steinbrenner was the loudest voice in the Bronx -- sometimes on the eastern sea board -- when Billy Martin, Bob Lemon, Lou Piniella and others managed, he did not appear as involved when Joe Torre managed. Or rather Torre kept the noise on the upper level as well as out of the clubhouse and the tabloids.
Torre managed the Yanks to six American League pennants and four World Series titles in 12 seasons.
And it is why he’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon in Cooperstown, along with fellow managers Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox, plus Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, along with Frank Thomas.
Under previous managers when Steinbrenner had a meeting with his staff he’d sit on one side of the table, while his manager and coaching staff would sit on the other.
“Joe sat beside George in meetings,” said Tim McCarver, former Yankees broadcaster and a teammate of Torre’s with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1969, 1973-74. “Sitting beside George, rather than across from him, from a physiological aspect it made them co-guys in charge, not one man.”
Joe, now no longer clueless, guided the Yankees to 92 wins and a Series title in 1996, their first since 1978.
“Joe’s friends had more confidence in him being a winning manager than he did, we were only surprised it did not come earlier,” said McCarver, the Hall of Fame broadcaster. “Winning that first year allowed the bulb to grow. Joe had never really had a winning team -- it was understandable. If you’ve never done something in the back of your mind there’s doubt. After that Joe went forward and dealt with George with a great deal of confidence.
“People were well aware of power George tried to exert and Joe handled it beautifully.”
Yankee-haters will complain about Steinbrenner buying a new team each free agent season but a kid shortstop named Derek Jeter arrived in 1996, the same year Mariano Rivera became a fixture in the bullpen, Jorge Posada played in eight games joining Andy Pettitte in his second year and centre fielder Bernie Williams in his sixth year.
Home grown one and all.
Late in the spring of 1999, Steinbrenner was upset Hideki Irabu failed to cover first, calling him a “fat, toad.” Irabu refused to pitch, and stayed in Tampa as the team flew to west to start the season.
Don Zimmer filled in as manager since Torre was battling prostate cancer. Ramiro Mendoza was named to start Game 3 of the season in Irabu’s spot. Steinbrenner patched things up and insisted Irabu start. Zimmer refused since he’d told the team of the new plans.
The owner called a staff meeting two weeks in with Zimmer and his coaches after a loss at home to the Detroit Tigers.
“George said, ‘if anyone in here thinks they’re doing the absolute best, they can get up and leave right now,’ Zimmer got up and left,” said McCarver.
Once when the Yanks were heading into Cincinnati the owner ordered Zimmer not be shown on Yankee-owned YES cameras on the trip Zimmer’s hometown.
“(Broadcaster) Jim Kaat called the president of YES and complained ‘how can we tell a story of a Cincinnati resident coming home without showing him on TV?’ The ban on Zimmer was lifted,” said McCarver.
At the July 31 trade deadline in 1999, Steinbrenner wanted to deal a struggling Pettitte to the Philadelphia Phillies for former first-rounders Adam Eaton and Reggie Taylor. Torre, general manager Brian Cashman and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre talked the owner out of it. Pettitte won 145 regular-season games and 13 post-season games for the Yankees after that.
The owner also wanted to move a struggling starter named Rivera, who saved 652 games and another 42 in October.
“George had a shoot-from-the-hip mentality when it came to trades, deal when a guy is down,” McCarver said. “From his days as a player -- and he was a very good player -- Joe knew the cycle of players. He curtailed George, he’d say ‘now let’s think about this,’ and he would sell it to George.
“Joe, (GMs) Bob Watson and Brian Cashman were responsible for those four championships not George.”
McCarver pointed out things came together for Torre when his former Atlanta third base coach Dal Maxvill -- as the GM of the Cards -- asked Torre to manage St. Louis, and perspective was added to Torre from working California Angels broadcasts for five years.
The manager went from Ordinary Joe to Hall of Fame Joe with a 1,173-767 record (.605 winning mark) managing the Yankees.