Home run! Brooklyn’s own not-so-average-Joe headed to Cooperstown

December 11, 2013 Jaime DeJesus
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It’s the Brooklyn to Cooperstown express.

It was announced on December 9 that Marine Park native and legendary baseball manager Joe Torre had been unanimously voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the 16-member Veterans Committee, an honor given to a select few.

Despite Torre’s immense success, his connection to his hometown of Brooklyn has remained strong. In 1974, a little league in Marine Park, which started in 1956, was renamed Joe Torre East Highway Little League. Torre still makes appearances at the field to meet the children and watch them play ball. After Torre won his first World Series as a manager in 1996, teams from the league were invited to stand in floats during the championship parade in the Canyon of Heroes.

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Longtime Marine Park resident and former player on the Torre Little League Melissa Calamera has fond memories of the baseball great.

“Joe Torre was present at our games and league events as often as he could be, and was incredibly friendly, inviting and interesting to talk to,” said Calamera. “The entire Marine Park community is so proud of his induction into the Hall of Fame, and there isn’t a more talented and down-to-earth person who deserves it.

Torre was a superb position player, having appeared in nine all-star teams as well as being MVP in 1971 when he played for the St. Louis Cardinals. He played for three franchises – the Cardinals, the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets — throughout his 17-year career and finished with an impressive .291 batting average and 252 home runs.

Despite his impressive playing career — where he played catcher, first base as well as third base — most will remember Torre for his stellar run as manager of the New York Yankees.

During his tenure in pinstripes, the Bronx Bombers enjoyed a golden age, winning a World Series during his first year as manager in 1996. He followed that success with three straight championships from 1998-2000.

Torre left the Yankees after the 2007 season. During his 12-year stint with them, the team reached the playoffs every season.
Torre finished his managing career as a Los Angeles Dodger in 2010 with an impressive 2,326 overall wins, good enough for fifth most wins of all time for a manager.

“Joe led our team during one of the most successful runs in our storied history, and he did it with a quiet dignity that was true to the Yankee way,” said Hal Steinbrenner, Yankees managing general partner. “Joe’s place in Yankees history has been secure for quite some time and it is appropriate that he now gets to take his place among the greats in Cooperstown.”

Joining Torre as Hall of Fame inductees will be all-time great managers Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa. The induction will take place in July at Cooperstown.

Since retiring from managing, Torre has kept busy. He is currently the executive vice president for baseball operations for Major League Baseball.

Now that one Brooklynite has reached the Hall, the borough still waits on another. Former Brooklyn Dodgers great Gil Hodges, who died in 1972, has been a borderline Hall of Famer for decades, but has never made the cut.

Voters claim that his lifetime statistics, along with never winning an MVP award, hurt his chances of entering as a player. However, Hodges thrived as a manager, leading the Mets to their first World Series victory in 1969. In 1993, Hodges fell one vote short of reaching the Hall of Fame as a manager. His next chance at eligibility is late 2014.

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