Joe Torre goes out a Dodger, but will always be remembered as a Yankee
Normally they don’t make managerial sunsets to fade into. Don’t cue up the soft music, allow for sentiment.
Few managers volunteer to call it a career, but exit bitter and humbled.
Joe Torre leaves his 29-year managerial career Sunday of his own choosing. He's walking away because it’s what he wants.
So the Dodgers have scheduled a little ceremony to pay tribute Sunday after the final game of the season.
The only slightly odd element being that he exits as a Dodger. Will manage his final game at Chavez Ravine and not Yankee Stadium.
Torre spent three seasons at the helm of the Dodgers. He led them to two National League Championship Series. Was respected and admired, but in three seasons, probably not beloved.
Few will ever think, Joe Torre, Dodger.
He began his playing career as a Brave. Had his best years as a Cardinal. Managed with five different organizations.
``But when you define my career and what has been the most satisfying in my professional career, it’s the Yankees,’’ Torre said. ``Only because of being able to get to the World Series.
``When we won in ’96 my wife said, `OK, you did it. Let’s go.’ And I said, `Well, let’s see if we can do it again.’ Never dreaming I’d be to five more World Series and win three more. It was a heckuva dream.’’
Torre, 70, remains uncertain what he will do next. He said there have been overtures to return to broadcasting. He plans to meet with general manager Ned Colletti in a couple of weeks to see whether there’s a position with the club that would be mutually beneficial.
And after all the hubbub two weeks ago over his comments about speaking to the Mets, he now talks more forcefully like he doesn’t foresee managing again.
``To go somewhere else and manage would really be a long shot,’’ he said.
If to many he seemed a New Yorker filling in for a few years with the Dodgers, he nonetheless had them on the cusp of two World Series. He was a calming influence on what had been a troubled clubhouse.
``It’s like that old E.F. Hutton commercial, when he talks everybody listens,’’ said veteran catcher Brad Ausmus. ``It doesn’t matter who they are, whether they’re players, other managers, other coaches, general managers. When Joe starts talking about baseball, people listen.
``He has as much of a calming presence as any manager I’ve ever been around.’’
With the Yankees and his first two seasons with the Dodgers, Torre managed a club into the postseason for 14 consecutive years. He has managed the most postseason victories (84) in baseball history and is fifth on baseball’s all-time regular-season list.
So it almost seems unnatural that the final club he managed will have a losing record.
``It’s not disappointing,’’ Torre said. ``You get the opportunity to do this … only 30 managers in baseball. And I’ve had some success late in my life as a manager and I’m certainly grateful for it.
``Sure, I wanted to go to the World Series. It would have been much nicer saying goodbye a lot later in the month. But it doesn’t detract from anything.’’
-- Steve Dilbeck