NEW YORK — Joe Torre lingered on the field at Yankee Stadium, hugging each one of the guests on hand Saturday to honor New York’s four-time World Series winning manager.
If Torre’s time with the Yankees always felt like a family affair why should the day his No. 6 was retired be any different?
“It’s a long, long journey from the field to Monument Park,” Torre said. “However, I was blessed to make that journey on the shoulders of some very special players.”
The recently inducted Hall of Famer unveiled his number alongside those of 16 other retired numbers in Monument Park at the start of the ceremony. With No. 6 forever out of circulation, that leaves Derek Jeter’s 2 as the only single digit number still being worn on Yankees pinstripes.
The Yankees captain, who is retiring after this season, escorted Soot Zimmer, the wife of the late Don Zimmer, onto the field to present Torre with a proclamation from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio naming Saturday Joe Torre Day.
Torre rode in a golf cart with Yogi Berra to the area in front of the mound, where the Yankees presented him with the 29th plaque to be placed in the area beyond the center field wall at the stadium. The team also gave Torre a flashy commemorative ring.
Torre, now an executive vice president for Major League Baseball, is the fourth member of the Yankees teams that won four World Series titles from 1996-2000 to be honored in Monument Park. Mariano Rivera was celebrated last season and Tino Martinez and Paul O’Neill were give plaques earlier this summer. Bernie Williams will be recognized next year.
All but Rivera were on hand Saturday to pay tribute to the man who guided the Yankees to their first title since 1978 with a sense of calm and familial congeniality under George Steinbrenner, the combative owner.
“Joe’s demeanor was always the same during the course of a game, during good times, bad times,” said Joe Girardi, the Yankees current manager and catcher on three of Torre’s World Series teams.
Torre, a Brooklyn native, took over as manager of the Bronx Bombers in 1996, and found instant success despite a losing record in 14 seasons at the helm of the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals.
The Yankees made the playoffs in each of Torre’s 12 seasons, winning six AL pennants. He was 1,173-767-2 in the regular season and 76-47 record in the postseason.
“This group I had as far as nobody really cares who went to the All-Star game and nobody cared who got the headline in the newspaper — it was all about rolling up their sleeves and pretty much letting me decide on the direction we were going,” Torre said. “I wasn’t always right but they always respected the fact that it was my decision.”
Torre left after the 2007 season after turning down a one-year contract, his relationship with the organization strained.
But when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in July, Torre said, “Let’s cut to the chase, I’m here because of the New York Yankees.”