Yankees retire Joe Torre's No. 6

ByAndrew Marchand ESPN logo
Saturday, August 23, 2014

NEW YORK -- There will never be another New York Yankee with a No. 6 on his back.

During a pregame ceremony Saturday, the Yankees officially retired Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre's No. 6, honoring his steady hand for the team's four World Series titles in the five years at the end of the last century.

Standing next to Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner beyond the center field wall in Monument Park, Torre unveiled the No. 6 plaque. Torre's number is the 17th in franchise history to be retired, joining the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio.

"When you know the neighborhood you are in out there, it is pretty cool," Torre, 74, said during a news conference. "It is unbelievable. This is the Yankees."

From the outfield, Torre arrived in a golf cart to the infield accompanied by his wife, Ali, and his good friend, Yogi Berra.

Torre made sure to thank George Steinbrenner, even coyly referencing how he forgot to properly pay respect to The Boss during his introduction into the Hall of Fame earlier this summer. But he saved his highest praise for his championship players, many of whom were on hand.

"I just want to say, in closing, it is a short distance from the old stadium to here but it is a long, long way from the field to Monument Park. However, I was blessed to make that journey on the shoulders of some very special players," Torre said.

Prior to Torre's closing remarks, Derek Jeter escorted Don Zimmer's widow, Jean, to hand Torre a proclamation from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio that declared Saturday "Joe Torre Day" in the city. Torre also received replicas of his No. 6 plaque, as well as a gold and diamond ring to commemorate the day.

With Torre's number now officially out of circulation and the retiring Jeter's No. 2 expected never to be handed out again, the Yankees will have no single-digit numbers available.

Torre said he almost chose No. 2 as his number, but he and his wife decided to go with No. 6 because of its similarities to his old playing number of 9.

Before Torre became the Yankees' manager in 1996, he led three other teams (New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals) to just an 894-1,003 record and won just one division title.

"After being fired three times, you start to question the way you do things," Torre said.

When he arrived in New York, a tabloid's back page declared him, "Clueless Joe," based off a column that -- despite the legend -- didn't question Torre's credentials, but rather his sanity, wondering if he knew what he was getting himself into, having to deal with the elder Steinbrenner.

"When I was first hired, I knew there was a lot of controversy involved," said Torre, who replaced Buck Showalter. "This was going to be an opportunity for however long it was going to be. I was going to manage for an owner that had a commitment to this city and I was going to find out if I could do the job or not."

With his mixed results in his three previous stops, Torre thought about changing his approach with the Yankees.

"In it is an old story now, I was reading one of Bill Parcells' management books and it said, 'If you believe in what you are doing, stay with it,'" Torre said. "I just closed the book."

Torre's calm style proved to be the perfect one to handle The Boss and New York. It also helped that he made the playoffs every season in his 12 years as the Yankees' manager, winning at a .605 clip (1,173-657) and adding six pennants to go with the four World Series rings.

After the relationship ended sourly -- he technically wasn't fired, but he felt unwanted by a contract that included incentives, which he felt gave himself no choice but to leave -- Torre managed the Los Angeles Dodgers for three years, winning a couple of division titles.

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