Joe Torre life and biography

Joe Torre picture, image, poster

Joe Torre biography

Date of birth : 1940-07-18
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Brooklyn, New York, United States
Nationality : American
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-07-15
Credited as : Baseball player and coach, played for Milwaukee/ New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals, managed New York Yankees

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Joseph Paul Torre, born July 18, 1940 is the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and a former Major League Baseball player. A nine-time All-Star, he played for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, and the St. Louis Cardinals. After his retirement as a player, he later managed all three teams.

Torre managed the New York Yankees from 1996-2007. The Yankees reached the post season each year and won ten American League East Division titles, six American League pennants, four World Series titles, and overall compiled a .605 winning percentage.

With 2,246 wins (through the end of the 2009 season), he presently ranks 5th in Major League Baseball all-time managerial wins. His managerial success-- particularly his achievements with the Yankees-- has led to widespread speculation that Torre will be a first-ballot Baseball Hall of Famer as a manager upon his eligibility.

Playing career

Torre followed in his brother Frank's footsteps and joined the Milwaukee Braves in 1960 as a backup for veteran catcher Del Crandall. He finished second to Billy Williams in the 1961 Rookie of the Year voting, and became a reliable player on a veteran Braves team that included Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews. He was primarily a catcher, but also spent significant time as a first baseman. In 1965, Torre won a Gold Glove as a catcher, and led National League catchers in fielding percentage in 1964 and 1968. In an article for the St. Petersburg Independent that year, Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac called Torre "the best catcher since Roy Campanella." After moving to Atlanta, he hit .315 in 1966.

Torre was traded to St. Louis in 1969 in exchange for Orlando Cepeda. He continued as a catcher for his first two seasons with the Cardinals, but became primarily a third baseman in 1971. That was the best year of his career; he won the Batting Championship hitting .363 and led the league with 137 runs batted in, enroute to the National League Most Valuable Player award.

Torre was traded to the Mets in 1975 for Ray Sadecki with Tommy Moore. He became a player-coach, then a player-manager before retiring.

Manager career

In May 1977, Joe Frazier, who had only been the team's manager a little over a year , was fired, and Torre, who was playing third base for the Mets, was chosen as the replacement. Because he believed he could not do the job properly while still playing, he decided to retire at age 37, but did serve 18 days as a player-manager (only having 2 at-bats), becoming the second of three players in the 1970s to take on both roles (Frank Robinson, in the two previous seasons with the Cleveland Indians, and Don Kessinger, in 1979 with the Chicago White Sox, were the others). Torre closed out his 18-year playing career with a .297 batting average, 252 home runs, 1,185 RBIs and 2,342 hits. Torre managed the Mets through the 1981 season, but was unable to post a winning season.

In 1982, Torre took over as manager of the Atlanta Braves, and immediately guided them to a Major League-record 13 straight wins to open the season. Atlanta subsequently went on to finish 89-73 and capture the NL Western Division title, its first playoff appearance since the 1969 NLCS. In Game 1 of the NLCS against the Cardinals, the Braves jumped to a 1-0 lead before the game was rain delayed after four innings and eventually canceled just three outs short of an official game. St. Louis won the rematch and went on to sweep the series. The Braves slipped to second place in 1983, but their 88-74 record was just one game off the previous season, and marked the first consecutive winning seasons for the organization since moving from Milwaukee in 1966. Atlanta slipped to 80-82 the following season, (1984) but again finished runner-up in the division (tied with Houston Astros).

Torre spent the 1985–1990 seasons as a television analyst for the California Angels. While working as a guest analyst for ESPN during the 1989 World Series, Torre was on hand for the Loma Prieta earthquake (October 17, 1989).

In 1990, Torre replaced the popular Whitey Herzog as Cardinals manager and posted a 351–354 record. Though the Cardinals were unable to reach the playoffs during Torre's tenure, they had winning records in each of the three full seasons he spent with the club (excluding the strike-shortened 1994 season). Despite a last place prediction from many commentators, the Cardinals finished in second place and won 84 games in 1991, Torre's first full season at the helm. His best record was 87–75 in 1993. Torre was fired in June 1995 for his poor record that year as part of a rebuilding project while Anheuser-Busch prepared to sell the team.

Torre served as the Yankees manager under the controversial owner George Steinbrenner, who was famous for frequently firing his team's managers. Torre lasted 12 full seasons, managing 1,942 regular season games (with a won-loss record of 1173–767). and took the team to the post-season playoffs every one of his twelve seasons with the club, winning six American League pennants and four World Series. This was by far the longest tenure for a Yankees skipper in the Steinbrenner era. Torre's was the second-longest managerial tenure in the club's history: only Joe McCarthy lasted longer.

Torre got off to a rough start with the Yankees. The New York City press (and fans) thought his hiring was a colossal mistake and greeted him with headlines such as "Clueless Joe."

However, it was with the Yankees that he enjoyed the greatest success of his managerial career, leading them to the playoffs in each of his 12 seasons (1996–2007) with the club. He would eventually become a fan favorite. In 1996, he was named Manager of the Year. Torre, building on the Yankees' Wild Card berth in 1995, made his first-ever trip to the "Fall Classic," leading the Yankees to their first World Series since 1981. After the Yankees defeated the Atlanta Braves, Steinbrenner tore up Torre's contract and gave him a new, more lucrative and longer contract as a reward.

After losing to the Cleveland Indians in the AL playoffs in 1997, the team won three straight World Series titles from 1998 to 2000, and additional American League pennants in 2001 and 2003.

The 1998 season was Torre's most successful. Despite a slow start that included losing four of the first five games of the season, the Yankees set a then-American League record of 114 regular season wins, including David Wells's perfect game on May 17. During the playoffs, the Yankees easily bested the Texas Rangers, fought off the Cleveland Indians for the AL pennant, and swept the San Diego Padres in the World Series. Torre won Manager of the Year honors, and the 1998 team is now widely regarded as one of the greatest baseball teams, along with the Yankee teams of 1927, 1939 and 1961, the 1972–1974 Oakland Athletics, and the 1975–1976 Cincinnati Reds. When ESPN launched its Who's #1? series on June 15, 2004, the 1998 Yankees topped the network's list of best teams over the years 1979 to 2003.

In 2004, Torre suffered his greatest setback, marking the end of the Yankees' dominance. After building a 3–0 lead in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, his team would go on to suffer one of the worst collapses in baseball history and lose the next four games and the ALCS.
Despite pitching issues and injuries the Yankees won another AL East title in 2006.

In 2007, Torre got his 2000th win and became the first major league manager to win 2000 games and have 2,000 hits. Torre later notched his 2,010th managerial win, overtaking Leo Durocher for 9th place on the MLB all-time managerial wins list. He also passed Casey Stengel on the Yankees all time managerial wins list in 2007 and recorded his 1,150th victory with the team Yankees. Torre led the Yankees to their 13th consecutive postseason appearance.

In the 2007 post-season after the Yankees lost two games to the Cleveland Indians in the Division Series, George Steinbrenner said in an interview that Torre's contract would not be renewed if the Yankees did not defeat the Indians. The Yankees saved their season, and potentially Torre's job, for one day, as they won Game 3 at Yankee Stadium. Following the Yankees' elimination the following night, earning them another first-round exit, Torre's fate remained uncertain. That night, as Torre went out to make what would be his last pitching change with the team, the fans in Yankee Stadium gave Torre a standing ovation and chanted his name.

After the season the Yankees offered Torre a one-year contract with a $5,000,000 base pay and $1,000,000 bonuses, to be paid for each of three benchmarks the team reached: winning the American League Divisional Series; winning the American League Championship Series; and winning the World Series. Also, if the Yankees made it to the World Series, Joe Torre would pick up an option for a new contract for the following year. The contract, despite the pay cut, would still have kept Torre as the highest-paid manager in the game. However, it was portrayed in the New York media as an insult. Torre turned down the offer, ending his era with the Yankees. On October 19, 2007, Torre held a news conference to explain his decision. After first thanking owner George Steinbrenner, he said: "I just felt the contract offer and the terms of the contract were probably the thing I had the toughest time with."

On February 3, 2009, Torre released a book about his experiences with the Yankees, called The Yankee Years, co-authored by Tom Verducci.

On November 1, 2007, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that Torre would be their manager beginning with the 2008 season, filling the void left when Grady Little resigned his post two days before. This marks the return of Torre to the National League, the only league he had played or managed in prior to becoming the Yankees skipper. According to ESPN, his contract is valued at $13 million over 3 years.

Torre brought two members of his 2007 Yankees coaching staff with him. Former Yankee great Don Mattingly, who had served as Torre's bench coach, was tabbed as the hitting coach, and third base coach Larry Bowa was brought in to fill the same position with the Dodgers. In January 2008, Mattingly was moved to the role of special assignment coach for the 2008 season due to family concerns. He was replaced as hitting coach by Mike Easler. In addition, Torre brought in Bob Schaefer to be bench coach, and retained first base coach Mariano Duncan and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt from Little's staff. Ken Howell was promoted from Triple-A pitching coach to bullpen coach, completing his staff.

On March 31, 2008, Joe Torre made his managerial debut with the Dodgers in a 5–0 victory. Coincidentally, he would be managing several former Red Sox players, such as Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe, and Nomar Garciaparra. On September 25, 2008, the Dodgers clinched the NL West title, giving Torre his 13th consecutive postseason appearance. October 4, 2008 saw Torre managing the Dodgers to a 3–0 victory over the Chicago Cubs in the National League Division Series, earning the Dodgers their first post season series victory since their championship season of 1988. Torre's Dodgers were beaten in the NLCS four games to one by the Phillies (who went on to win the World Series) with a 5–1 loss on October 15.

In 2009 the Dodgers had the National League's best record (95–67), clinching the top seed in the Senior Circuit. The Dodgers faced Torre's old club the Cardinals in the National League Division Series, sweeping them three games to nothing. However, they went on to lose to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS in five games, ending their season once again with a loss to the Phillies.

During the 2010 season, Torre and his Dodgers will be playing games against both the Yankees and the Red Sox.

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