"I might as well cut to the chase. I'm here because of the New York Yankees."
That's one of the first things Joe Torre said Sunday afternoon during his induction speech at baseball's Hall of Fame. Torre spoke for roughly 28 minutes, yet he came away regretting not focusing more on George Steinbrenner and the opportunity the Yankees gave him to manage starting in 1996.
Torre obviously talked about the Yankees in his speech, and he did mention Steinbrenner; he just didn't talk about him, he felt, enough. At NJ.com, Torre was quoted as saying he was "very upset" at himself for not mentioning Steinbrenner and his family more.
After finishing, Torre stepped away from the podium and immediately realized he left out a part of his speech.
“As soon as I turned around, I said, 'I forgot George.' Not only George, but Hal and the family and the whole thing."
Torre also forgot to mention Gene Monahan, a Yankees trainer from 1973-2009.
Not thanking Steinbrenner directly really bothers him.
“You don't get accepted without George's acceptance, you know?” Torre said. “It was just so obvious for me (to talk about him) because I was so concerned about all my family to make sure I didn’t forget anybody.”
Torre is being too hard on himself — as is anyone criticizing him. It's not Steinbrenner's moment, it's not the Yankees' moment — it's Torre's. This is a story Torre told of being hired by the Yankees before the 1996 season:
I got a call from Gene Michael, who was stepping down as general manager ... and he offered me the job. [My wife] Ali was pregnant ... and I asked, "Is there vacation time?" They said, "No, not working for George." So, I said, "Thank you, but maybe next time." Then I got a call from a dear friend [and Steinbrenner adviser] Arthur Richman about a month or so later: "Do you want to go on a short list of managers to replace Buck Showalter?" I said, "You bet." Then the call comes from George Steinbrener, who says, "You're my man." Well, I know George's history and I know my brother Frank said, “You're crazy." But I knew that if I was ever going to find out if I could do this stuff, this was going to be my best opportunity.
That's a great Steinbrenner story, one that accurately reflects his place in the game. Torre also conveys what the job meant to him:
"This was going to be my best opportunity."
Torre seems to get it. Further, Torre says that Steinbrenner telling him that he was the guy made him take the job. Good enough, right? Not to sound like a commenter, but why is this a story?
Here's the entire talk:
What more do we want from Torre? Steinbrenner, who died in 2010, is looking down — or from wherever — and chuckling at Torre's anecdote. Torre's inclusion of George Steinbrenner in his speech was no more or less than it had to be.
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