American baseball manager
Best known today as the manager of the New York Yankees, Joe Torre began his career in major league baseball as a player. Torre was 20 years old when he was signed with the Milwaukee Braves in 1960, and he remained a professional baseball player until 1977. In 1977, Torre began a new career as a manager of baseball teams, starting out as manager of the New York Mets, moving on to the Atlanta Braves, and then the St. Louis Cardinals, and finally to the New York Yankees. Torre's numerous honors include playing on All-Star teams in 1963-1967, and again in 1970-1973. In 1971, he led the National League in runs batted in (RBIs) and in batting average. Also in 1971, he was named Most Valuable Player. He has received recognition as an outstanding manager as well, in 1982 and 1998 earning distinction as Manager of the Year.
Following in His Brothers' Footsteps
Joe Torre was born in Brooklyn, NY on July 18, 1940. He was the youngest of two girls and three boys born to a New York City police department detective and his wife Margaret. Torre's older brothers, Rocco and Frank became professional baseball players before Torre did, although Rocco's baseball career was cut short when he joined the Navy. Frank Torre became a major league baseball player in 1956. Torre himself began his pro baseball career at the age of 20 as a player for the Milwaukee Braves in 1960. For this one season, Torre and his older brother Frank played on the same team.
Torre's career got off to a great start; on his very first time at bat, he hit a single. The following season, he was named the number two rookie of the year, second only to Billy Williams. By 1963, Torre was playing as both catcher and at first base, and that year was named to the All-Star Team—a distinction that would be repeated for the next four seasons. In 1964, Torre was the leading fielder among National League catchers, and in 1965, he won the catchers Golden Glove award. Also, in that year's All-Star Game, he hit a two-run homer that assured the National League's victory over the American League in a score of 6-5.
In 1966, Torre went with the Braves when they moved to Atlanta. That year was one of his best; he hit 36 home runs, a feat he would never repeat. His batting average that year was .315, and he batted in 101 runs. Torre's pace was slowed in 1968 when he broke a broken cheekbone. He moved to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1969 when he was traded for Orlando Cepeda. His first position with the Cardinals was at first base, and he again became a catcher in 1970, but moved to third base
that same season. He again hit his stride in 1971. In that year, he led the National League in batting and was named the league's Most Valuable Player.
From Player to Manager
Torre was traded to the team that was to be the last of his playing career in 1974, the New York Mets. He welcomed this chance to play for his hometown, New York City. He traded his career as player for a managing career in 1977. That year he retired as a player and became the Mets' manager, replacing outgoing manager Joe Frazier. Torre managed the Mets until 1984. In his final year as manager of the Mets, his team lost about as many games as they won, and this led to Torre's dismissal. He stayed in the game, however, becoming a television broadcaster for the California Angels, a position he held for close to six seasons.
In 1990, Torre returned to managing, this time working for another of his old teams, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals performed well under Torre, in 1991 becoming the second-ranked team in the National League. The year 1994, however was not as good a year for the Cardinals, and Torre was replaced as manager by Mike Jorgensen.
Leading the Yankees to Victory
The American League's New York Yankees hired Torre the following year to manage their club, and his first year there saw the Yankees' triumph over the Atlanta Braves for their first World Series win since 1978. Torre never lost his touch with the Yankees, in 1998 leading his team to an American League record number of wins, 114. Also in 1998, Torre was named American League Manager of the Year.
Torre's success with the Yankees during this time was tempered by the death of his brother Rocco, who died of a heart attack in June 1996. Torre himself had a scare when, in March 1999, he was found in a routine exam to have prostate cancer. He left the team to undergo treatment, which included surgery. Treatment was successful, and he returned to managing the Yankees in May 1999. By 2001, the Yankees had won five World Series under Torre—in 1996 (the first since 1978), 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001.
Many observers credit Torre's rock-steady demeanor in part for the Yankees' phenomenal success with Torre as manager. As catcher Joe Girardi told the Denver Post 's John Henderson, of Torre, "He has a calming effect.… He never panics. You can see it on the bench. He never panics when we're going through rough times. And he never gets too high."
|1940||Born on July 18 in Brooklyn, NY|
|1960||Begins professional baseball career as a player for the Milwaukee Braves|
|1963-66||Plays on the Sporting News All-Star Team|
|1966||Moves with the Braves to Atlanta|
|1966||Hits 36 home runs, his career best|
|1969||Moves to the St. Louis Cardinals|
|1974||Moves to the New York Mets|
|1977||Becomes manager of the New York Mets|
|1984||Becomes television sportscaster for the California Angels|
|1990||Becomes manager of the St. Louis Cardinals|
|1995||Becomes manager of the New York Yankees|
|1997||Publishes memoir called Chasing the Dream: My Lifelong Journey to the World Series|
|1999||Publishes management guide called Joe Torre's Ground Rules for Winners: 12 Keys to Managing Team Players, Tough Bosses, Setbacks, and Success|
Awards and Accomplishments
|1963-66||Named to the All-Star Team|
|1965||Won Golden Glove award|
|1971||Named the Most Valuable Player of the National League|
|1996||Led the New York Yankees to their first World Series win since 1978|
|1998||Named the American League's Manger of the Year|
|1998-2001||Led the New York Yankees to victory in the World Series|
Torre gives his players more credit than himself for their success. His job, as he sees it, is largely to stay out of their way and let them do their jobs. As he told Henderson in the Denver Post, "I know as a player, I wanted the manager to give me the benefit of the doubt that I knew how to play the game." And, "What I try to do…is insulate them from distractions and have them concentrate on playing the game."
To the title of manager, Torre has added the title of motivational speaker; in the off-season, he coaches executives on how to successfully manage their teams of employees. As a speaker, he commands fees of $50,000 to $75,000 per appearance.
SELECTED WRITINGS BY TORRE:
Chasing the Dream: My Lifelong Journey to the World Series. New York: Bantam, 1997.
|ATL: Atlanta Braves; MIL: Milwaukee Braves; NYM: New York Mets; STL: St. Louis Cardinals.|
Joe Torre's Ground Rules for Winners: 12 Keys to Managing Team Players, Tough Bosses, Setbacks, and Success. New York: Hyperion, 1999.
Henderson, John. "Serenity Now Joe Torre Doesn't Have to Burn with Fire to Manage the Most Fiery Franchise in Baseball." Denver Post (May 29, 1998): D1.
Kennedy, Randy. "Torre Far From Sandlot but Close to Home." New York Times (October 19, 1996): 1.
"Frank Torre." BaseballLibrary.com. http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/T/Torre_Frank.stm (November 22, 2002).
"Frank Torre: 'I Didn't Pull a Pettitte." CANOE. http://www.canoe.ca/96WorldSeries/oct28_front.html (November 25, 2002).
"Frank Torre Statistics." Baseball-Reference.com. http://www.baseball-reference.com/t/torrefr01.shtml (November 25, 2002).
"Joe Torre." BaseballLibrary.com. http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/T/Torre_Joe.stm (November 13, 2002).
"Joe Torre." Leading Authorities. http://www.leadingauthorities.com/search/biography.htm?s=4203. (November 13, 2002).
"Joe Torre." RLR Associates Ltd. http://www.rlrassociates.net/clients/torre.html (November 13, 2002).
" Joe Torre Statistics." Baseball Almanac. http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=torrejo01 (November 13, 2002).
"Joe Torre Statistics." Baseball-reference.com. http://www.baseball-reference.com/t/torrejo01.shtml (November 13, 2002).
Sketch by Michael Belfiore