A nine-time All-Star, Joe Torre won the 1971 batting title for the St. Louis Cardinals, also earning the NL Most Valuable Player Award that season. A solid defensive catcher early in his career, Torre ended up playing more than 500 games behind the plate, at firt base, and at third. In 1977, he retired as a player and assumed the managerial position for the New York Mets. He quickly established himself as a players manager, but he couldn't shake the miserable Mets from their doldrums, and guided them to three last-place finishes in the first of his unsuccesful five-year stint with the club. He was dealt a young team in Atlanta and won a division title in his first season. After he was fired by the Braves, Torre waited for another managerial opportunity, and ultimately drew the enviable task of succeeding Whitey Herzog in St. Louis, where as a player Torre had enjoyed his best seasons. In his four full seasons guiding the Cardinals, Torre posted winning records three times, but their impatient ownership axed him in May of 1995. He didn't wait long for his next job, as the Yankees surprisingly hired him to replace Buck Showalter in 1996. After more than 2,000 games as a player and another 2,000 as a manager, Torre finally made it to the World Series, winning the world championship in his first season in pinstripes. He finished second in 1997, but reeled off three straight titles from 1998-2000, and seven straight division titles through 2004, as he took his place among Yankee dugout legends. His understated, gentlemanly approach, crafty use of his bench and pitching staff, and abiliy to deflect criticism from owner George Steinbrenner, have marked his years in the Bronx.
"He's always the same. That's the reason he's been so successful. He relays that to us in good times, bad times, and he's got the perfect mentality, I think, for a manager." â€” Derek Jeter on Joe Torre
"What I try to do is make sense, try to be as honest as I can possibly be and be able to communicate. I think that's the most important thing. Whether you're managing a baseball team or running a business, I think it's all about people." â€” Joe Torre "I just felt that the terms of the contract were probably something I had the toughest time with. The one year, for one thing; the incentives for another thing. I had been there for 12 years, and I didn't feel the motivation was needed. I just didn't think it was the right thing for me, or the right thing for my players." Joe Torre, on why he declined a one-year offer from the Yankees after the 2007 season that called for a pay cut.
Torre ws named NL Most Valuable Player on the strength of his .363 average, 230 hits, 34 doubles, eight triples, 24 homers, 137 RBI, .421 OBP and .555 SLG. He was used primarliy at third base by the Cardinals, though he saw action at first, as well.
Joe Torre is the only person to win 2,000 games as a manager and also collect 2,000 hits in his playing career.
As a manager, it was his even keel and ability to deflect distractions from his players. As a player, it was his ability to pull the ball with authority.
As a manager, he was sometimes too loyal to his players. But that's really stretching to find a weakness. As a player, Torre was a slow runner and he had an average arm for a catcher or third baseman.
Most Times Ejected, Manager, All-Time
1. John McGraw... 131 2. Leo Durocher... 124 3. Bobby Cox... 117 4. Earl Weaver... 98 5. Frankie Frisch... 86 6. Paul Richards... 80 7. Tony LaRussa... 73 8. Lou Piniella...71 9. Clark Griffith... 67 10. Bill Dahlen... 65 11. Joe Torre... 64 Source: Doug Pappas and SABR
Twice when he was manager of the Yankees, in 1996 and 2004, Torre's team saw a 10-game lead paired down to less than two games. Each time, the Yankees won the division title, beating out the Red Sox in '04 and the Orioles in '96.
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