Joe Torre is an Italian–American professional baseball executive and former baseball player, currently serving as the chief baseball officer of ‘Major League Baseball’ (MLB). Born in Brooklyn, New York, to Italian immigrant parents, Joe was the youngest of five children. Joe played baseball during his school years. Following his high-school graduation, he began working at the stock market. In 1959, he was signed as an amateur free agent by the ‘Milwaukee Braves’ and made his major-league debut in 1960. For the next few years, he remained one of the most sought-after catchers in the game. He eventually played with teams such as the ‘St. Louis Cardinals’ and the ‘New York Mets.’ In June 1977, he retired from playing. He became the manager of ‘New York Mets’ the same year. He then managed teams such as the ‘Atlanta Braves,’ the ‘St. Louis Cardinals,’ and the ‘New York Yankees.’ He began working as the executive vice president for baseball operations in 2011. In 2014, he was promoted to the position of chief baseball officer. Joe is best known for his highly successful managerial career. He is the only manager with 2,000 wins and 2,000 hits.
Childhood & Early Life
Joe Torre Jr. was born Joseph Paul Torre, in Brooklyn, New York, on July 18, 1940, to Joe Torre Sr. and Margaret Torre. He was the youngest child in a family of five children. He grew up with his two sisters and two brothers. His father worked as a plainclothes officer in the ‘New York Police Department’ (NYPD), and his mother was a homemaker.
Joe’s older brother, Frank, played baseball professionally. Following in his footsteps, Joe became a keen baseball player at a tender age. It also became important for him to play baseball, as it shielded him from the domestic abuse that he witnessed at his home every day. As a result of this, his academics suffered.
His father was a violent man and beat his wife regularly. Joe was scared of coming back to his house at nights, as he knew his father would create a scene. When Joe was 13 years old, his older brother decided to confront their father. He was politely asked to leave. Following this, his parents divorced.
Frank became a father figure for Joe, as he was 8 years older than him. He pushed Joe harder to play baseball and to build a career in the game. He began playing during his years at the ‘Saint Francis Prep’ school. However, he was not able to concentrate on his studies and baseball at the same time.
His brother then asked him to begin playing as a catcher. Soon, his game began improving and he began eyeing the big leagues. Following his high-school graduation, Joe began working at the stock exchange. He also continued to hone his baseball skills throughout this time.
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In 1959, Joe began his professional baseball career when he was signed by the ‘Milwaukee Braves,’ as an amateur free agent. He was advised to try as a free agent by his older brother Frank, who had done the same.
During his first season with the ‘Northern League,’ he scored a batting average of .344, which is considered a decent score for a rookie. He made his regular season debut in September 1960. Having played in the minor league for only a year, he was all set to make his major-league debut. He scored a batting average of .278, which included 10 home runs and 21 doubles. He was ranked second in the ‘Rookie of the Year’ votings.
By December 1963, Joe had become the undisputed top catcher in the team, as ‘Braves’ had traded their catcher, Del Crandall, to the ‘San Francisco Giants.’ The following season, Joe performed beyond everybody’s expectations. Apart from hitting 12 home runs, with a batting average of .312, he also became the fifth player in the run for the 1964 ‘National League Most Valuable Player Award.’
Joe maintained his scintillating performance the following year and earned two ‘NL Player of the Month’ awards. He also won his career’s first ‘Gold Glove Award’ the same year. He was now being hailed as one of the most valuable players on the team. He had a feud with the ‘Braves’ general manager, Paul Richards, over his salary. The feud took place in 1969, and the same year, Joe was traded to the ‘St. Louis Cardinals.’
He ended his first season with the ‘Cardinals’ with a batting average of .289, with 101 runs batted in and 18 home runs. He carried on with the good performance until 1975, when he joined the ‘New York Mets.’
After he joined the ‘Mets’ in 1975, it seemed his best days were behind him, as he delivered average performances. He played his final game in June 1977, against the ‘Houston Astros.’ While playing with the ‘Mets,’ Torre became the third player in major league and the first in the national league to hit into four double plays in one game.
He joined the ‘New York Mets’ as a manager in 1977, when the team was struggling through a bad phase. Joe could not improve the team’s performance. By the end of the 1981 season, he was fired from the managerial position of the team.
His situation changed with his next team, the ‘Atlanta Braves,’ as he led the team to 13 straight wins in the beginning of the 1982 season. He was named the ‘Associated Press Manager of the Year’ by the end of the season. Joe was released from his duties by the end of the 1984 season.
Over the next few years, he served as the color commentator for the ‘California Angels.’ In 1990, he was hired as the manager of the ‘St. Louis Cardinals.’ His team performed averagely over the next few years, and he was fired in 1995.
He then served as the manager of teams such as the ‘New York Yankees’ and the ‘Los Angeles Dodgers.’ By 2011, he retired from his managerial career.
In 2011, he began working as the new executive vice president for baseball operations, a position he still holds.
Family & Personal Life
Joe Torre is a horse racing enthusiast and owns many horses from different breeds.
He has also released three books, an autobiography titled ‘Chasing the Dream,’ an advice book titled ‘Joe Torre’s Ground Rules for Winners,’ and ‘The Yankee Years’.
He married Jackie in 1963. They had a son named Michael. Following his divorce, he married Dani in 1968. They had two daughters, Lauren and Cristina. His second marriage, too, ended in a divorce.
He married Alice Wolterman in 1987. They have a daughter named Andrea.
Joe battled and defeated prostate cancer in 1999.
On December 14, 2005, Torre carried the ‘Olympic Flame’ in Florence, Italy, as part of the torch relay of the 2006 ‘Winter Olympics’ in Turin.