Torre prepares for Hall of Fame induction
Four-time World Series champion still working out kinks in speech
SCARBOROUGH, N.Y. -- Joe Torre's journey to the Hall of Fame has been more than a half-century in the making. Yet with his induction weekend now just one week away, the legendary skipper still doesn't know what exactly he'll talk about during his acceptance speech.
On Thursday, his focus was solely on his annual Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation 2014 Golf and Tennis Classic at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club. Torre was joined by celebrities, athletes and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as his foundation continued its efforts to battle domestic violence by raising both money and awareness.
It was a perfect day for golf, with temperatures hovering in the upper 70s and clear skies overhead. Torre is hoping for a similar forecast next weekend in Cooperstown, where he will be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, alongside fellow managers Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox, as well as former players Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas.
"I'm not ready to do it yet. I have no idea what I'm going to say," said Torre, who plans to arrive in Cooperstown on Wednesday. "All I can hope is we get some beautiful weather like today to enjoy it all -- but that's about as far as I've gotten so far."
Torre, who turns 74 on Friday, has dedicated the past 54 years to Major League Baseball. He made his big league debut as a player on Sept. 25, 1960, at the age of 20. Over the better part of the next two decades, he would make nine All-Star appearances and earn the National League MVP Award in 1971, while splitting his 18 seasons amongst the Braves, Cardinals and Mets.
Torre spent the latter part of the 1977 season as a player-manager for the Mets before becoming a full-time skipper to start the following season. He went on to win four World Series titles, while amassing 2,326 wins over his 29-year managerial career. Torre has continued his devotion to the sport by currently serving as MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations.
"I thought he should have gone in as a player, but the career he had as a manager was second to none," said Tino Martinez, who played for Torre from 1996-2001 and again in '05. "He was fantastic to our team and we couldn't have asked for anything else from a manager. This induction is long overdue and I'm very excited about it."
Martinez was on hand Thursday to take part in Torre's golf tournament, as was former teammate David Cone. Both players contributed to all four of Torre's titles, including the Yankees' three-peat from 1998-2000.
"It validates all of us, in a sense," Cone said of his skipper's Hall of Fame induction. "It validates our run. I feel like I'm part of it when I hear Joe Torre get his recognition and go to the Hall. It makes me feel good about being part of that team and I feel like I'm going in there with him to an extent."
Torre echoed a similar sentiment, going as far as to say that he would not even be entering the Hall of Fame if it weren't for players like Cone, Martinez, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and so on.
"I know I wouldn't be enshrined if it wasn't for Jeter and Mariano and some of these guys here today," Torre said with a laugh. "They played a huge part for me, not just in getting me to where I am, but in my career as a whole. I hope they all know how much they meant to me."
If not, Torre will have a chance next weekend on baseball's biggest stage to thank them all once again -- though his speech remains very much in the preliminary stages.
"I've never been one to just stand up there and read something. I've always been one to try to speak what's in my heart and on my mind," Torre said. "Hopefully I can make sure I acknowledge all the people that were really instrumental in getting me to where I was. This isn't an individual honor. I'm not going in there alone and I want to make sure everyone knows they're a part of this."
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.