• Marc Johnson

A Class Act


I don’t like the Yankees or the Dodgers. Never have. But I gotta say a word or two about the class act that recently announced he was taking off the Dodger blue at the end of the season and – do you believe this – retiring.

Joe Torre is plain and simple a class act. I’ll never understand what happened in New York that caused bad blood to develop between Joe and the pinstriper’s management. What the guy didn’t win enough for you? Through thick and thin, Torre kept his temper, showed his class and keep the media spotlight from frying him and his players.

All Torre did was win in New York – every year in the playoffs, ten Eastern Division titles, six American League pennants and four World Series rings. He obviously didn’t have the same talent or budget in LA, especially after the dysfunctional Dodger owners decided to split the sheets, or was it air the dirty laundry?

The guy was a player, too. A Gold Glove catcher, National League MVP and a batting title. He’s the only guy to have 2,000 wins as a manager and 2,000 hits as a player. He also didn’t take himself too seriously even when he looked like the world was resting on those broad, Italian shoulders.

Torre holds the National League record for grounding into double plays in a single game. He did it four times in a game in 1975. His comment: “I’d like to thank Félix Millán for making all of this possible.” Millán was hitting in front of Torre that day and singled all four times.

One of my partners tells a story about a friend of his who once saw Torre sharing a bottle of wine with some other guys in a Seattle restaurant after a game. The friend thinks he’ll big-time the Yankee manager and sends over another bottle of what Torre and his friends are drinking, then nearly passes out when he gets the bill. Torre obviously had class when it came to selecting a bottle of wine, too.

Torre will have a chance to manage again, I suspect. He certainly deserves another job, if he wants one. He’ll look better in anything but pinstripes and Dodger Blue. Or, if he wants, Torre can go to the broadcast booth or, I can dream, replace Bud Selig. Or, he can really retire, spend time with his family and not sleep 100-plus nights a year in a hotel room.

As the Giants, Padres and Rockies battle to the wire in the National League West, I regret that Torre’s team, as much as I dislike them, aren’t in the hunt. He deserves that.

Baseball has few enough really classy acts. Joe Torre is one of the best.

 

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©2019 by Marc C Johnson