The 1990s Dynasty has its manager back.
Following a three-year estrangement, the Yankees and Joe Torre officially buried the hatchet. According to Torre, the Yankees have already invited him to Old Timer’s Day on June 26, and he has every intention of attending.
Although there had already been some thawing in the relationship when the Yankees invited Torre to attend last year’s George M. Steinbrenner memorial, yesterday’s announcement amounts to a full armistice. Since his departure following the 2007 season, the media, fan base and even the front office seemed to be divided in its sentiments toward Torre. Some viewed the former manager as a martyr who was unfairly treated, while others came to view him as an entitled figure who overstayed his welcome. When Torre released his now infamous “The Yankee Years” before the 2009 season, those factions became even more entrenched. Following yesterday’s detente, however, all parties are now safe to reunite.
That’s water under the bridge, I guess. I never would have changed anything. You wish at the time I left that it could have ended differently, but I don’t know if it could have. I don’t know if either one of us knew how to say goodbye at that point in time.” – Joe Torre, quoted in the New York Daily News, March 18, 2011
The Yankees have never been shy about honoring their legends, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Old Timer’s Day is transformed into a celebration of Torre and his 1996 championship team, which will be celebrating its 15th anniversary. Such an occasion would provide the perfect opportunity to retire Torre’s number 6 and unveil his well deserved plaque in Monument Park. There’s no reason for the Yankees to wait any longer. With last summer’s passing of Ralph Houk, Torre is only one of two living managers to lead the Yankees to a championship, so there’s no point in further postponing the honors he deserves.
Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium is always special, but lately, the ceremony has endured a bit of a lull. Over the past 15 years, the franchise has lost so many of its fabled legends, leaving only Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford as standard bearers for the old guard. In the meantime, however, the current team has been creating new legends. Although we’ve started to see the likes of Bernie Williams and Paul O’Neill filter into the mix, the real deluge will occur when Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada, among others, make their middle-aged jogs out to the first baseline. No one is in a rush to see that happen, but having Torre on the field at Old Timer’s Day is the next best way to not only honor his own accomplishments, but the golden era he helped sheppard.
Yankees’ Championship Managers