Torre introduced as Dodgers manager
Vail, CO Colorado
LOS ANGELES ” Joe Torre pulled on his crisp blue cap and shimmering white jersey, squinted into the California sun and immediately looked like a longtime member of the famous Dodger family.
Flanked by Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda and broadcasting great Vin Scully on a center-field stage at Dodger Stadium, Torre was quick to pay tribute to one of baseball’s most successful franchises Monday.
“I didn’t sleep all night,” he said. “It’s just a great feeling to be here. This is one of a handful of organizations you automatically say yes to.”
Indeed, Torre was front and center for his introduction as Los Angeles’ new manager ” less than three weeks after walking away from the New York Yankees. Scully delivered the opening remarks for an event held in center field to accommodate the overload of media, a first according to team spokesman Josh Rawitch.
Near the podium, Torre was joined by team owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, general manager Ned Colletti, pitching ace Brad Penny and Lasorda.
“The Dodgers were always special and I certainly expect the Dodgers will always be special,” Torre said. “I get choked up.”
Torre walked onto the fog-shrouded field arm-in-arm with his wife, Ali. They took seats on a stage with their backs to the multitiered stands.
“Wow! This has been wild here. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind,” Torre said. “You say goodbye to one prestigious organization and you say hello to another prestigious organization.”
Torre will wear No. 6, a carry-over from his Yankees uniform. He announced that former New York coaches Don Mattingly and Larry Bowa will follow him and join his staff with the Dodgers.
Mattingly’s son, Preston, is a minor leaguer in the Dodgers’ organization.
“Don Mattingly, I can’t tell you how excited he is,” Torre said. “We’re just looking to go to work.”
Torre left the Yankees after 12 seasons and four World Series titles. He follows Casey Stengel in becoming the second person to manage both storied franchises. Stengel led the Brooklyn Dodgers to losing records from 1934-36, moved over to the Boston Braves, then guided the Yankees to seven Series titles from 1949-60.
The 67-year-old Torre replaced Grady Little, who quit last week, and takes over an underperforming team that hasn’t won the Series since 1988. The Dodgers finished fourth in the NL West last season at 82-80.
“I don’t know my team, obviously,” Torre said. “I’ve been in the American League the last 12 years.
“The goals as far as I’m concerned ” you go out there and you play hard and you play smart and you hope to get a good result,” he added. “I can talk about it all day long. We’re going to have to prove it out here.”
Torre, who grew up in Brooklyn rooting for the rival New York Giants, guided the Yankees to postseason appearances in all 12 of his seasons. He left when the Yankees offered him a $5 million, one-year contract with $3 million in performance bonuses that Torre termed “an insult.” He made $7.5 million this season, the last of a $19.2 million, three-year agreement.
Exactly two weeks after he left the Yankees, Torre agreed to a $13 million, three-year deal with the Dodgers.
“When I think of the Dodgers I think of efficiency, I think of pride, I think of measuring stick,” Torre said, self-deprecating as usual about his playing career. “You always measured yourself by the Dodgers because they did everything right. They had a stature that you always looked up to.”
He’ll manage the Dodgers during their 50th anniversary season in Los Angeles and return to the National League for the first time since 1995, when the St. Louis Cardinals replaced him with Tony La Russa. Torre also managed the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves.
“What impresses me most about this gentleman is he has done it both on and off the field,” McCourt said, ticking off Torre’s accomplishments with the Yankees. “He leads and he wins.”
Torre is used to California. He was a broadcaster with the California Angels for six years before the Cardinals hired him in 1990.
“This is surreal for me. It’s been an emotional roller-coaster for my family over the last couple of weeks with everything that’s gone on,” Torre said.