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October 27, 1999

Joe Torre


Q. From your perspective, is there any way to describe what the Yankees have meant as an institution throughout the century and what it means to you to try to uphold that level of performance?

JOE TORRE: Well, you've always admired the Yankees, even though I was never a Yankees fan growing up in Brooklyn. But you always respected DiMaggio and Mantle and Nettles and Yogi, Mickey. It was very special. I told someone earlier that when I first got this job, I felt a little strange putting on the Yankees' uniform because of all the tradition that went with being part of this organization, and I said it's starting to feel pretty good wearing it now. So you recognize there are a lot of ghosts in this ballpark, old-timer's games are always special here at Yankee Stadium when you get to the see the former players. I remember my first spring in '96 having Catfish and Guidrey come down and Goose and Reggie and all those people. It's pretty special. There's a lot of history, a lot of pride involved with being part of the Yankee organization. You do feel an obligation.

Q. What was your reaction to Chad's decision not to speak to Jim Gray? Do you know if the team is planning on continuing that at all?

JOE TORRE: Well, I'm going to plan on talking to the team today. I just wish Chad would have said that was his choice instead of, you know, that it was the team that agreed to do this. Because I know the whole team didn't have this type of meeting or anything like that. So we have a certain obligation to NBC that we're going to fulfill and that's just what we have to do. I was just, you know, as I say, I don't like to orchestrate anything, each individual should, you know, make his own mind up on what he wants to do. That's the way it should have been left.

Q. Did you talk to O'Neill today and what's his emotional state?

JOE TORRE: Well, Paulie, he's been carrying a heavy heart for a while. His dad's been suffering, and, you know, they've been not surprised by his passing because he, you know, was in that type shape in the hospital. So it's a very sorrowful time for him, but, again, as I said, he's been going through this for a few weeks. You know, his father's had heart problems for a number of years and it's been one thing or another and he thought they lost him earlier this year and he was able to fight his way back. So Paulie does what he does. As George Steinbrenner called him at one dinner, he's a warrior and that's what he is. He knows the other guys count on him a lot and he's here even though I'm sure it's going to be tough to totally concentrate.

Q. Is he going to be with you all the way through? Is that the plan?

JOE TORRE: Hopefully all the way through is tonight.

Q. If it goes beyond tonight?

JOE TORRE: I think we'll have to wait and see. If it goes beyond tonight, we'll have to wait and see. Obviously Paul is free to do what he feels he has to do family-wise. It's just been strange that it's happened a few times with us this year.

Q. What has it meant to you to have Girardi by your side the last four years? Do you think this could be your last night together?

JOE TORRE: I don't think about that. I hope we can celebrate together. Last year, when we celebrated, we didn't know at that point in time, pretty similar to what it's going to be this year, but Joe Girardi, I trust Joe Girardi very much. Not only with handling the pitchers, but just in general conversation, if I have to get a feel for the mood of the team, Joe, David Cone, they're pretty good barometers for me. So, yeah, I'm used to having him around and he's been very helpful to me.

Q. Don Zimmer said the other day if you win this series, this would help legitimize your shot at the Hall of Fame. As a manager, how conscious are you of your historical perspective?

JOE TORRE: Really not conscious at all until people start bringing it up. My brother, Frank, he's the first one. He talks about the Hall of Fame. I say leave me alone, I'm having more fun than I ever had in my life. This is wonderful. Wearing a World Series ring, there's nothing better than that in professional sports. And, you know, if I happen to go into the Hall of Fame, obviously that will be something very, very special. But right now, I'm enjoying what I sort of have control over here, and, you know, the Hall of Fame, you know, if somebody or the committee thinks it's worthy of me being in there, I very much would be appreciative of it. But, again, I've never been one to talk about my accomplishments. I'm just enjoying them, let's put it that way.

Q. I was going to say that you mentioned it was strange to have some of these tragedies that struck your team this year. Is that a difficult thing to balance, how much is it connected into play?

JOE TORRE: It's interesting because playing this game of baseball you have to eliminate the highs and the lows and that's what all these tragedies are about. There's nothing higher than playing in a World Series and nothing lower than having to mourn the death of a family member. So it's really a contradiction of what we try to do here. But, again, it's, you know, baseball's a game of life and there are a lot of things that go on that you have to, you know, fight your way through and it's very difficult. It's difficult. But, you know, there's no -- there's no sitting and talking to anyone about the meaning of this whole thing. It's just something you have to accept and move on.

Q. What do you think of Randolph and Chambliss as managerial candidates? If one or the other leaves or both, what kind of loss will that be for the team?

JOE TORRE: It will be a happy loss. They're going on to something they always wanted to do. I had Don Baylor as a coach for me in St. Louis, when he got the Colorado job I was tickled pink. I hope it happens for both of them. We'll replace them. It's replacing them in a nice way, though, because they're going on to do things I feel they're both capable of doing. But, again, they need that first opportunity in order for it to happen.

Q. Can you address the rumors that Clemens is having some type of back problems and if he is healthy or if he is having problems?

JOE TORRE: Bob Gibson taught me this a long time ago, you don't go out to the mound feeling 100 percent all the time. One thing or another nags at you. If there's anything that would keep him from pitching, he wouldn't be pitching obviously. We feel he's going out there with his full compliment of stuff, and I don't anticipate anything that is going to keep him from taking the ball tonight. To say that he feels perfect, I can't say that. When you pitch as long as he's pitched, you know, there are things that you're used to dealing with, and I think that's where we are now. He had a groin pull earlier in the year, and because he puts so much effort in what he does as I say, you learn to make adjustments.

Q. You talked before about upholding the tradition of this franchise being from New York, when you came here, I know you knew about the mystique. But for other people that come here, whether it be players, employees, coaches, how does that get indoctrinated, about what the mystique is about this franchise?

JOE TORRE: All you have to do is look up on the board. Look at all the pictures hanging. Babe Ruth's probably the greatest player of all time. Surely there are two players that have impacted this game more than any other, and Babe Ruth is one and Jackie Robinson is the other. And to still talk at this point in time about Babe Ruth when, I mean, youngsters still know the name and have no clue other than, you know, a picture or one of those funny news reels, watching him run around the bases. Ruth and Gehrig and DiMaggio, all the grace and elegance of a number of players that you routed for and that you respected. I think respect's a big word. I mentioned that before, you're probably tired of hearing it. But there's just a certain elegance about wearing a Yankee uniform and the way the guys did it. Nobody wore a uniform better than Mickey Mantle. I wasn't a Yankees' fan, but I always admired number 7, the way he carried himself.

Q. Did you have a conversation with Paul about whether he wanted to play tonight? If so, how did that go?

JOE TORRE: I did not have a conversation about that because I just assumed when he showed up, that's what he's there for. I talked to his wife earlier today, and, you know, it's something we have to get him through. I think the best way to do that is write his name in the line-up and give him maybe a couple hours away from the grieving. I know it's got to be -- it's tough sitting there when you have time to think about it. We can occupy his time hopefully with a victory tonight, it will sort of ease some of it.

Q. Why, in your opinion, is it harder in baseball to overcome a 3-0 deficit than in any other sport?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think because it's two good teams. I don't think it's that hard, when you start thinking about it. I keep going back to that Braves-Mets thing, it was very close to being 3-3 and the pendulum was swinging back the other way. Obviously, a club that's won 103 games has won four games in a row at one time or another. But, again, I think it's just the competition. We're a good team, and they're obviously a good team. And, you know, if we do our job, the likelihood isn't there that they can do that; that they can win four in a row. If we don't pitch the way we're capable of pitching, anything's liable to happen. There's no holds barred at that point in time. You can't stop the bleeding, can't run the clock out, can't freeze the ball. All those things you can't do in our sport. You need to get 27 outs, whether it takes one pitcher or all ten or eleven that you have, you need to try to do that. That's where it's unique, where it's unlike any other sport, you need to play nine innings with 27 outs. Sometimes that doesn't seem possible.

Q. Again, on the Yankee franchise, do you think New York helped make the Yankees great or did the Yankees make New York great?

JOE TORRE: Well, this is a special city. There's a lot of energy. I think that's what the Yankees feed off of, the energy in the city. I think it's really a combination. The city, the uniform, the uniform, so many uniforms have changed over the years, and the Yankees have maintained their style and their class of the pin stripe, no names on the back, just, you know, the Yankees. You don't have to be in baseball or even be a sports fan to know who the New York Yankees are.

Q. Last night, Tino's homer wasn't as dramatic as a couple of the others. What did that do for you guys and how big is Tino for your line-up? How good a fit is he?

JOE TORRE: Well, he's in the middle of it. That home run was very, very, very big. You know, we got to 5-2, it stirred us a little bit. 5-3, you're thinking in terms of Rivera, thinking in terms of two innings for Nelson. But 5-3, you're right there at arm's length at this point in time. I know as a manager, I've been on the other side of that field when you score early and you stop scoring. It's uneasy for you. You know, it's like you had a 5-0 spot in the first inning, then all of a sudden it's 5-1, 5-2, 5-3. Managers like to score in a lot of innings just to keep the momentum from shifting over. So once we got the 5-3, we had a lot of confidence in the dugout.

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