Veterans Committee to examine Torre
Yankees manager was a career .297 hitter over 18 MLB seasons
Joe Torre's golden touch has guided the Yankees to four World Series championships, with a cool, calm demeanor helping the skipper pick up a pair of Manager of the Year awards along the way.
Those mementos join a series of other accolades Torre accumulated over his lengthy baseball career, including a Most Valuable Player Award and a Rawlings Gold Glove.
With that hardware in tow, Torre is left to ponder if the game's ultimate acknowledgement awaits him: A bronze plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"The Hall of Fame has never been a priority for me, but it would be a tremendous honor," Torre has said. "It's something that isn't in my control, so I don't give it a lot of thought."
Torre's managerial career will likely push open Cooperstown's doors in the future, but it will be his playing career that will be examined when Torre's case for Hall eligibility is reviewed by the Veterans Committee.
In 18 Major League seasons with the Braves, Cardinals and Mets from 1960-77, Torre batted .297, stroking 2,342 hits, 252 home runs and collecting 1,185 RBIs.
A nine-time All-Star, Torre won the 1971 National League Most Valuable Player Award after batting a league-leading .363 for St. Louis. Torre also was honored as the NL's top defensive catcher in 1965 with Milwaukee, and compiled five seasons of 100 or more RBIs and five seasons in which he hit at least .300.
In 15 years of Hall of Fame eligibility, Torre's statistics were generally regarded as very good for his era, but beneath the standards for induction. He remained on the ballot from 1983-97, though his candidacy fell well short of the 75 percent necessary for induction -- in 1997, Torre's final year on the ballot, he received his highest vote total, 22.2 percent.
One major point of interest regarding Torre's career was his thirst for the playoffs, which extended through his entire playoff career and the early stages of his managerial life before finally being quenched in 1996 with the Yankees, his first season at the helm.
August Busch Jr.
Torre's managerial career -- which already included 14 years of service with the Mets, Braves and Cardinals before he donned pinstripes for the first time -- will be considered after his retirement.
It is generally thought that Torre's efforts in the dugout and clubhouse will carry weight for Cooperstown, complementing his on-field resume. He is regarded as one of the best managers on a personal level in the current era, showing a knack for becoming intimately involved in the minds and personalities of players.
"He's one of the best managers in the game and players love playing for him," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said last year.
Only 12 managers have more career victories than Torre, nine of which are Hall of Famers. Of the other three, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox are still active. Gene Mauch is the other.
In addition, just four managers -- Walter Alston, Connie Mack, Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel -- have matched or exceeded Torre's four World Series titles. All have found a home in the Hall, and Torre appears primed to join them eventually, surely representing the Yankees.
"This is a great organization, history-wise, to be associated with," Torre said. "With the success we've had, I'm always going to be associated with this organization."
As rewarding as his managerial career has been, Torre relishes his playing career and is extremely proud of the relationships and memories formed over those 18 seasons.
Nary a day goes by that Torre is not asked to recount -- or draws inspiration from -- an episode from his playing career, often recalling moments in the sun from future Hall of Fame teammates like Cardinals great Bob Gibson.
The Brooklyn-born and raised Torre has enjoyed more than his share of fine afternoons and evenings in New York already. One day, it is speculated, he'll take those glories upstate for another day to remember.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.