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BASEBALL HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CEREMONY


July 27, 2014


Joe Torre


COOPERSTOWN, NEW YORK

JOE TORRE:  Thank you so much.  Johnny bench told me I have two minutes.  Mark these words:  Greg Maddux has no pulse.  The man has no pulse.  Look how excited he is (Laughter).
I can't tell you how proud I am, when we got the call, or when I got the call, on December 9TH, and again, Jane, I'm sorry I hung up on you (Laughter.) And then Jane Clark called back and told me I was elected unanimously to the Hall of Fame.
And I said, "Who else"?  And she wouldn't tell me.
So we got dressed quickly, my wife, Ali and I, and we went down stairs.  I walked into the room with the Expansion Era Committee and I see Bobby Cox.  I said, "Good."  
And then I hear the door open behind me, and it's Tony La Russa, and it was just perfect.  You know, our careers just mirrored each other's, and I think it would have been an injustice if we didn't enjoy this together.
Tommy, Greg and Frank, I don't know what I can tell you.  Pretty special.  Amazing.  You admire, even though you manage and you face players and you face pitchers, that even though you don't want them to do well, you admire the way they do it.  And to me, that's doing things the right way.  Eric, Roger and Joe Garagiola, congratulations on your honors.
I want to thank everyone connected with the Hall of Fame, Jane, Jeff, Brad, Whitney.¬† It's been a marvelous weekend‑‑ nerve‑wracking.¬† You know, managing was nothing like this.¬† And a lot of these guys back there kept me out of the Hall of Fame as a player.¬† I can tell you that.¬† (Laughter.) Try hitting against those guys.
You know, I'm here, might as well cut to the Chase.  I'm here because of the New York Yankees.  However, in order, as Tommy said, to be ready, you had to make stops along the way.  You had to fail along the way.  Played with the Braves.  What an education playing with Hank Aaron for eight years.  Still gives me goosebumps.
And going over to the Cardinals and becoming teammates with Gibson, Brock, Carlton, Tim McCarver, and playing for a manager who probably made the biggest impact on what I did as a manager, Red Schoendienst.
But there was a man who probably educated me more in the nuances of baseball, every aspect of the game, and his name was George Kissell.  George was a father figure to me when I was a player, and then when I went back as a manager some years later, I treasured every spring training game because he would sit next to me, and the last thing he would say, "Look out there and count to nine."  And you count the nine positions, just to make sure everybody was playing where you expected them to play.
Going over to the Mets, got a chance to play with Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.  What a man.  I was with the Mets a couple of years before I became manager, and then once I became manager on May 31, 1977, my first bit of duty was to trade Tom Seaver two weeks later, which wasn't a whole lot of fun.  And the last time he pitched for me, I don't know if you remember, Tommy, he pitched in Houston, and when I went out to take him out of the game, he padded me on the rear end.
I did have one accomplishment when I was with the Mets as a player.  And again, you can't go through life alone; certainly in baseball you need all the help you can get.
Well, on July 21, I hit into four double plays in one game, and I just want to make sure I share the credit, because I could not have done it unless Felix Millan had hit four singles right in front of me (Laughter.).
In 1977, I became manager.  I want to thank the New York Mets for at age 36 trusting me with their club, and Donald Grant, chairman of the board, it was a great opportunity for me.
You talk about learning.  We had to make some trades a couple of weeks after I took the job, and there was a lot of learning, young players, but great experience, great experience.
The one thing you learn as a player, you know, you can see all the authorities who tell you who is supposed to win and who isn't supposed to win.  If you become a manager, you're doing yourself an injustice, unless you make yourself believe that the team on the field is the best one you're going to see.  That's the way.  That's the only way you're going to be able to communicate with players.
From the Mets, went to the Braves.¬† Enjoyed my first post‑season in 1982 working for Ted Turner and a man named Bill Bartholomay who still remains a dear friend.
I remember asking Ted, as my wife, Ali and I were just getting to know each other and starting a courtship, I guess you can say in the old days, and I asked Ted about, give me an advance on my salary so I could buy a house.  Told me to rent.  (Laughter).
So after three years, it was obviously no surprise that I was gone from there, too.  Had a great experience working for Gene Autry with the California Angels at the time.  Worked there six years as a broadcaster.  That's where I got to meet Tony and got to admire things that other managers did, Sparky Anderson and Tony.  Again, you learn every step of the way.
Then a guy named Dal Maxvill got me back in the game.  He was the general manager of the St.Louis Cardinals.  Whitey was stepping down, and he wanted to get a manager, and I had the opportunity.
I was with the Cardinals almost five years, and I got fired for the third time.  And the interesting part, after I got fired from the Braves, I was very depressed, because I had been fired by the Mets and I had been fired by the Braves.
My wife, Ali, said to me, "How do you want to be remembered?  What are your thoughts on this?"
I said, "Someone who never realized their goal."    I was feeling sorry for myself obviously.  All of a sudden she slapped me into reality by saying, what, are you dead?
Then the opportunity came after the Cardinals‑‑ and I want to tell you kids, I got fired three times.¬† That's in the category of failure.¬† The only way you're going to learn, the only way you're going to get better is to experience setbacks and just get yourself up, dust yourself off and move on.¬† Learn from it.¬† Learn from it.
Got a call from Gene Michael, Stick Michael, stepping down as general manager of the New York Yankees, and he was interviewing me to become general manager.  Offered me the job.  Ali was pregnant with our daughter, Andrea, and I said, "Is there vacation time?"
And they said, "No, not working for George."
So I said, "Thank you, but maybe next time."
Then I get a call from a dear friend, Arthur Richmond, about a month or so later, to say, "Do you want to go on the short list for managers that's going to replace Buck Showalter?"  
I said, "You bet."  
And then the call came from George Steinbrenner that says, "You're my man."
Well, I know George's history, and I know my brother, Frank, said, "You're crazy."  But I knew if I was ever going to find out if I was going to do this stuff, this was going to be my best opportunity.  A general manager hired the same year, Bob Watson, who is here with us today, worked with Bob for a couple of years, and then Brian Cashman, who is here also, today.  As I say, it's a team effort all the way through?
And the interesting part in managing the Yankee that is never really came to mind, but when I was a teenager and my brother, Frank, was in the World Series in '57 and '58 against the Yankees, Braves winning in '57 and the Yankees winning in '58, little did I know the next two times these teams would meet in the World Series, I would be managing the Yankees.
And I just have to relive some of the thrills, if you don't mind bearing with me here.  1996, Bobby's Braves had us two games to none.  David Cone, may have been the best decision I made in my managerial life, picking David Cone, who has ice water in his veins as Game3 starter.  He went out there and stopped the bleeding.  We won the game.
Then m there was Game4, that three‑run homer.¬† And then a huge walk by Wade Boggs and John Wetteland closed the door.
Game5, Andy Pettitte who got roughed up in his first game, who I didn't know until later on when I decided to have him hit for himself in the top of the ninth, Andy's wife, Laura, was sitting next to my wife, saying, "What's he doing?"  (Laughter.)
We win the Game 1‑0, and Paul O'Neill, who I almost didn't start that game, was playing on one leg just about, and makes a running catch in the gap in right center field.¬† Wetteland closed that one, too. ¬†And then Game6, of course Game6 was interesting, because my brother, Frank, which has been well publicized, he was waiting for a heart transplant, and I get a call at 5:00 in the morning that they found a heart for him.¬† So on the off‑day between games five and six, he had his heart transplant.¬† It was quite an emotional roller coaster ride for us.
Well, Game6, it was Jimmie key against Greg Maddux.  Girardi's triple against his former teammate; Wetteland sealing the deal for MVP in the World Series.
There was my World Series.  Ali said, "Let's go, let's go get that flower farm in Hawai'i."
I said, "Let's see if we can do it again."
1998, Tino's Grand Slam set the tone, Game 1.  Scott Brosius hit key home runs, one MVP.
1999, and the reason I'm going down and mentioning names is, you know, players have ability, but what gets you over the top is the character of those players.  1999, Paul O'Neill playing right field for me on the day that his dad passed away in Game4.
The 2000 World Series against the Mets.¬† Paul O'Neill walking in the ninth inning, the at‑bat seemed like it took 20 minutes.¬† We were down by a run.¬† Tied the game in the ninth, and the 12th inning, Vizcayano, a huge base hit.¬† Mo gave us two innings, by the way.
Game4, Jeter leads off, first pitch, hits a home run.¬† Cone comes out of the bullpen to get Mike Piazza, who had hit a two‑run home run earlier in the game.¬† Mo went two; what's new.
Then in Game5, Bernie and Jeter both hit homers.  And while I've got Bernie on my tongue here, I've got to tell you a story.  Bernie Williams was a special player.  He didn't know he was a leader.  He didn't know that people looked to him.
Well, one day in spring training, he's got this impacted wisdom tooth that needed to come out.  So he comes into my office and tells me, have a dentist appointment; okay.
Why don't you lay on the couch, and when they come to take you to the dentist appointment, then you go, but why don't you lay down.  Stays there for a while.  I come out on the field, come back in and he's still there and now he's going to get his ride to the dentist office and he's leaving.
And I try to lighten the mood, because he was in a little pain.  And I said, "Bernie, you've got to be careful.  People see you laying on my couch and hanging around, they are going to think you're my favorite."  
And he says, "They already know that."    (Laughter.)
Luis Sojo show with the big base hit that wins the World Series for us.
And then it was 9/11.  9/11, it was unbelievable.  I think obviously we were knocked on our heels and it was such an emotional time for us, for everybody.
But when that happened, baseball was the last thing we were thinking about.  It was our loved ones.  And we, you know, did our part.  The Mets did their part, but we just felt there was so much motivation for us when we opened and played again after 9/11.  I remember telling our players that the NY on our hat represents more than the Yankees.  It was just an emotional ride.
Oakland, we lose the first two games.¬† Lose the first two games to Oakland at home in a best‑of‑five.¬† And I don't know if anybody remembers this game, but Mike Mussina pitched Game3 and was pitching a 1‑0 shutout.¬† Ball down the right field line, Giambi on first, Jeremy Giambi trying to score with two out, Spencer over throws both cutoff men, and who is there but Derek Jeter to flip the ball to Posada for the tag at the plate.¬† And yes, we do practice that play.¬† There are people today who don't believe that.
And that World Series, we got beat twice, first two games.  Game3 we come back, and win Game3 in the World Series.
Games 4 and 5, it was like you were watching Groundhog Day, ninth inning, we're down by two.¬† Tino hits a two‑hundred homer, tie it up.¬† Jeter hits a home run the first day of November to win that World Series game.
Next night, it's Brosius, two‑run hoper, down two in the ninth to tie it up.¬† They can they can Soriano gets a base hit, Knoblauch scores.
Then the last World Series, which is looked doubtful we were going to get there.  2003, we were losing by I think it was four runs to the Boston Red Sox and Pedro, and I remember Mel Stottlemyre comes in before the game and he says, "We've got Mussina, but I told him he'd start an inning."  
I said, "Okay."  Well, Clemens was getting beat up a little bit and I told him to get up to warm up, and I bring him in with the bases loaded and nobody out.  Gets a pop up and a double play, and pitches three innings for us, a real gem and we go on and win with Aaron Boone's home run; and, oh, yeah, Mariano Rivera pitched three innings.  I tell you, I've always been a Sinatra fan, but after 12 years of Mariano Rivera, Metallica sounds pretty good to me.
It's been a wonderful ride.¬† We have had great players but great people.¬† Hideki Matsui comes on board.¬† He's hit 50 home runs a year every year in Japan.¬† First thing Zimmer asks me, "Ask him if he can hit‑and‑run."¬†¬†
So through an interpreter I did that and he says, "Any time you want."    That's the unselfishness that we've had.  And by the way, keep a couple of seats warm for a couple of these guys coming in here in the next few years.
Yogi Berra.  Yogi Berra told me when we won our first pennant, and I was going to be in my first World Series, he says, "Hey, Kid," he says, "When you get introduced and go to that first baseline, it's going to be unlike any other feeling you've ever had."    He was right.  It was pretty amazing.
And again, as Tony was talking about coaches, you can't do this alone.  You need people who are really dedicated and I had a great bunch.  In fact, three of them are here today:  Willy Randolph, Jose Cardenal and Lee Mazzilli.  Thank you for being here guys.
The two that couldn't make it, Mel Stottlemyre, who is watching, I know, in Washington State, I didn't know Mel very well but I admired what he did, especially in his years with the Mets, and did a magnificent job.
And then Don Zimmer.  Don Zimmer, you know, aside from costing me a lot of money by introducing me to horse racing, eight years sitting next to me, he made me the manager that I turned into.  He had more guts than I did, and sort of got me off the conservative platform.  And I know he's watching us from a racetrack in the sky somewhere, and I know his spirit is in my heart.
And again, I'm here because of the fans, the fans, unbelievable.  And I've been around, all through the country, the fans have been great to me.  But the fans in New York, I want to tell you, you have turned New York City into a small town for me.  Thank you very much.  Love you, too.
I want to thank baseball for the platform so that Ali and I could start our Safe at Home Foundation to help young students who have been affected by abuse.  It's funny when you have been around the game and people recognize your name, they return your phone calls, so it's nice.
And again, to Commissioner Bud Selig for allowing me to stay connected with this great game, thanks, Bud.
My family, my wife, Ali, and I guess I could say I love you, but I think something that would tell her more than that was that my mom would have loved you.  She was the rock, she is the rock; she's the backbone.  Even though she still wants to have that flower farm, she's been patient with me.  Thank you, Baseball.
My children, Michael, my daughter, Christina, couldn't be with us today, Lauren, and Andrea, love you all.
And I have to remember my mom, whether it was coming home from school for coming home after a season of baseball, she was there with open arms with all the love I needed.
And then my brother, Rocco, who was watching our doubleheader in Cleveland in '96 when he passed away.¬† And my father‑in‑law, Big Ed that welcomed me into this big clan I'll be telling you about in a second.¬† Big Ed, you're all watching from the best seat in the house, I know that?
My brother, Frank, who was my role model.  It was tough love for a long time, it really was.  But he was the happiest person in the world when I got that World Series ring.  He wasn't able to make it here today but I know he's watching from Palm Beach Gardens.
My mother‑in‑law, Lucille, thank you for being here, she's sitting over in the shaded area with my two sisters, Ray and sister Marguerite, great support, great support.¬† Even though my sisters just thought that we should bunt more.¬† And my grandchildren, Reed, Kendra, Dylan, Talisa, thank you, guys, for being here.
And then, of course, the contingent from Cincinnati, let's hear you, they are all over the joint.  My wife, Ali, has 15 siblings and they all said yes and they brought their families.
I can't tell you how much love I feel for these people and I feel from these people, but probably the toughest thing they had to do was put down that Cincinnati Red jersey and root for me, but they were great.  Love you, thanks for making the trip here, guys.
Closing thoughts, if you give me a moment.  Today is a celebration of chasing your dreams and putting the team above yourself, as my players did.
Tony Gwynn, I was at Tony's memorial and I watched him up on the screen, and he just said something that didn't surprise me coming from him.  He said, "All I ever tried to do was play the game the right way."    No better message for our youngsters than that.
There is a power to both patience and persistence.  Baseball is a game of life.  It's not perfect, but it feels like it is.  That's the magic of it.  We are responsible for giving it the respect it deserves.  Our sport is part of the American soul, and it's ours to borrow.  Just for a while.  To take care of it for a time and then pass it on to the next generation; when I say us, I mean as managers, as players.  If all of us who love baseball are doing our jobs, then those who get the game from us will be as proud to be a part of it as we were, and we are.
This game is a gift, and I am humbled, very humbled, to accept its greatest honor.  Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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