LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Joe Torre hoped it would happen, but he never dared think it would. The former New York Mets player and manager, who later carved his legacy as four-time World Series manager of the Yankees, was selected to the Hall of Fame today by the veteran’s committee.
The announcement was made at the Walt Disney Swan resort hotel in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Torre will go in with fellow managers Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox. All three won over 2,000 games and World Series titles. All three are incredibly deserving.
Also deserving, but left out were Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, whom Torre said, “changed my life for giving me that opportunity,’’ and Marvin Miller, the former director of the Players Association.
As much as friends told Torre – who currently works in the commissioner’s office – his nomination was a given, he never let his mind wander there.
“That’s what they said when we were up 3-0 against the Red Sox, and looked what happened,’’ said Torre of the Yankees’ infamous collapse in the 2004 ALCS. “As much as I would have like it to happen, I never obsessed over it.’’
Torre has little to say about his time with the Mets other than, “I started with the Mets when they weren’t spending anything,’’ and that he wasn’t the manager for two weeks when the club dealt Tom Seaver to Cincinnati.
Torre, a lifetime .297 hitter, finished his playing career and was named manager shortly thereafter.
Torre, who managed the Mets, Yankees, Braves and Cardinals, won 2,326 games, fifth all time, along with six pennants. He wore his 2003 World Series ring.
While he credited Steinbrenner for the opportunity, he saved his greatest gratitude for his players.
“You can’t win the Kentucky Derby unless you are on a thoroughbred,’’ Torre said of the team that won titles in 1996, 1998-2000. “They had so much heart and backbone.’’
Cox, a former Yankee, managed Toronto and Atlanta, and won the World Series.
“When you’re voted into the Hall of Fame, your life changes,’’ Cox said. “Hopefully, two guys who helped get me here – Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux – will be there with me. … They are the guys who got me here.’’
Glavine – a former Met – and Maddux are 300-game winners, traditionally an automatic ticket to Cooperstown.
La Russa began his managerial career at age 34 with the Chicago White Sox, and blossomed to dugout stardom with Oakland and St. Louis.
“The best way to describe the feeling is `stunned,’ ’’ said La Russa. “I’m not sure I will ever feel comfortable in that club.’’
ON DECK: A trade the Mets should make.