Torre & NY Yankees

Joe Torre is still well loved in New York.

Maria with Joe Torre
Maria with Joe Torre

Torre is in the big apple this week, holding the seventh annual Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation Gala.

Many members of his former team, New York Yankees will join him at tonight’s event including team captain Derek Jeter, World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and Mo.

Mariano Rivera will be honored at the Gala. Among other current and former Yanks that will be present are Yogi Berra, Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Don Mattingly, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams.

Torre and his wife Ali Torre founded this organization back in 2002 as a result of the impact that domestic violence had on him and his family. A Brooklyn native and the youngest of five children, Torre stayed away from home because he was fearful of his father, who regularly abused his mother. Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation’s mission is “educating to end the cycle of domestic violence and save lives.”

Joe Torre and Lulu
Joe Torre and Lulu

Three years ago, Maria and I met Torre in person at Yankee Stadium. Maria and I still reminisce about the day she threw out the first pitch at Yankee stadium. We’re just two girls from New York (she’s from Brooklyn and I’m from Queens), standing in the middle of the most famous ballpark in the world in Bronx, New York. It doesn’t get better than this. Torre treated us so well, welcomed us into his dugout. Torre even gave Maria his hat.

Maria and I were both thrilled to see Torre again.

So were the employees at Barclays (where we did our broadcast from as part of our "Trading Floor Thursdays") yesterday. We all remember what Torre did for the Yanks. Under Torre, the Bronx Bombers had four World Series titles under their belts, 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000.

Torre reflected on Yankees 2009 victory, saying it was great. As a national league manager he was supposed to root for the Phillies, but we all know where his loyalty is at when it’s Phillies vs. Yankees. Torre said, it’s all about the core guys “it's all about Pettitte, Jeter, and Posada, and we certainly needed these guys. It just gives you an idea that, you know, once is never enough, four times is never enough, they wanted this badly. And I think the fans in New York certainly were ready for it.”

Here’s the transcript of the rest of Maria’s conversation with Joe Torre.

Bartiromo: Were you looking at those guys when they were, you know, playing and knowing what they should have been thinking about? You must have been inside their head after all of the years.

Torre: You know the competitor, the other guys, and I know there was a lot of second-guessing going on about Andy Pettitte. Should he be pitching this game? But knowing the kind of just focused individual he is, he will himself to win. It has nothing to do with physical well-being. It's a matter of just willing yourself to do something. I’m a firm believer in that.

Maria: That's an unbelievable thing that you just said. You know, and that could go across lines, right, business and education, whatever it is. How do you will yourself to win? When you're talking to those players and giving them the momentum and trying to root them on and give them that will, what do you do?

Torre: Well, you know the interesting part about it. I have a young ball club now. And you're trying to find the right words to make it important for them. I took over a club that had some -- a lot of experience and of course you add Jeter to that, Bernie Williams and Paul O’Neill. You sort of felt comfortable with where they were. And how badly they wanted to achieve, and they weren't afraid of success. Success is a funny thing. We all want it, but once you have it, you have to repeat it. And that's where the pressure comes from. And these guys were certainly up for the task.

Maria: You know, that's a great point because you can have success, how do you hold on to it?

Torre: It is the fact that you do something once, everybody will make a big fuss over it and you're proud of yourself, something they can't take away from you. But the thing about it is you're validated by doing it again. And, you know, this group one with the Yankees and Joe Girardi included. You know the road and it's bumpy and you have to put up with a lot of stuff and the media's a lot tougher now than when I started in '96.

Maria: Sure because the bar has been raised and now it's there. Now you're seventh gala, congratulations to all of your works in this regard. You've been able to help the foundation achieve real awareness at this point and funding. Tell me what you've done, how you see it in terms of achievements.

Torre: Ali asked me what I want to do. She came up with education, middle schools where maybe we can affect the potential abusers, the next series of abusers and sort of make them understand that it's not the right thing to do. But more importantly, I grew up in that type of a household. And I was a very nervous kid. Even though I never got physically abused myself, it was the scars that I carried with me even to my adult life. I was afraid of talking about it with anybody because I thought it was only going on in my house.

So you talk about awareness. That's so important. And now we have Margaret’s place, and my mom's name was Margaret. And it's a safe room in schools. And we have the Brooklyn Justice Family center, the Queens Justice Family Center, plus ten schools, opening another one on Monday. Where youngsters can go and understand that they're not alone, they're going through this thing with other people. We try to give them coping skills so they, you know, because obviously they can't go home and say hey, Joe Torre says it's not right what you're doing. But at least it has them understand that they're not at fault. And they shouldn't feel guilty. And it sort of helps them know they're not alone.

Maria: This is really important because you just shine the spotlight on something and all of a sudden it opens it up. Because you're right, people out there are afraid. They feel they're ashamed. You mentioned Margaret’s place, let's talk about that. You've got 11 Margaret places now with next week named after your mother. Can you briefly explain what services are provided?

Torre: Yes, and in both Justice Centers, it's like a care service because when the woman goes there to get help, it's sort of a day care type area room. It's a little different than the schools. And the schools, even though we have a masters level counselor in each one of our Margaret places where if the youngsters want to talk about it or with their peers, there's literature for them and we try to give them coping skills, make them comfortable to talk about it.

We have great stories that have come out very sad situations. We have a youngster that was going to join a street gang, and three or four trips to Margaret’s place he decided to go to college, no street gang. And I think there's a lot of understanding. There's a lot of care that we try to provide where let them know how important they are. Because self-esteem and the lack of self-esteem is so much a part of maybe what makes people repeat what their parents have done.

Maria: That's amazing success. And that must actually give you such satisfaction. You changed somebody's life and you continue to do so. Now the foundation this year is honoring Mariano Rivera.

Torre: He meant a great deal to the foundation. And again it's not because has been the MVP.

Because ten years ago he was the MVP in the '99 World Series. But you know he's more than that. He's a role model and really that's we're honoring him because of the person he is and you know the family man he is and the role model he is for these Yankee fans and other fans because of how he conducts himself. So we're very proud of that.

Maria: Do you find it more difficult in this economic to raising funds for this?

Torre: Obviously we have a lot of things coming at us, cancer and diabetes and all of these other things that require attention and money.

Maria: How easier, tough, as this been for you to get the money out?

Torre: Maria, we've been very fortunate portfolio we've the same group of people that keep coming back and you mentioned it, it's a very tough time now. And with the other, you know, with the other charities, autism, heart, cancer, whatever it may be certainly we need to raise money for those diseases. Our disease is a little bit different. You know it's something people don't want to talk about so a lot of times they'll just close the door and let's not even go there so -- and when you mention domestic violence it's always thought of as a woman's issue and I think a man talking out about it gets a little bit more attention, and hopefully we can raise more awareness and when you raise awareness people have to pay attention to it. I know if my mom was alive today, she would not want me to be doing this because she wouldn't want to share her grief with anybody.

Maria: Joe, as you sit and watch the developments in baseball, you've got one more year left on your contract. Has your transition gone to -- with the LA Dodgers, and tell me how you see the years ahead. You want to continue managing after your contract is up?

Torre: I’m thinking about adding another year, or asking them to add another year. I want to take up more weeks until the smoke clears. Three games away from the World Series and as long as I can -- make sense and the players seem to respond. I'm still excited about it. When I took the LA Job, I wasn't sure if this is what I wanted to do. I was just curious if it could still be fun and I’m very fortunate to have in opportunity. And it's been good. It's not New York. It's very different. But it was a great opportunity for me and it's another storied franchise.

Maria: How do you see the business of baseball changing? The business has changed already?

Torre: Sure. In a couple of years. I think that the Yankees felt the pinch earlier this year with their new stadium and everybody's cramming to get in there and there's no question about it. And LA it's a little different story. You know we have a fan base. In fact, we led all major league baseball in attendance last year, which is quite a feather in our cap considering the Yankees are in New York. But you know it's still tougher. We still rely on the people who come through the turnstiles. And we have to make it as comfortable as we can for them to be able to afford that. So I think we have to be sensitive to their needs. And I think some ball clubs have cut back somewhat on what they may have been able to afford a couple of years ago and what they can afford now.



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