COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (WKTV) - As if the double visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame Monday by 2014 inductees Greg Maddux and Bobby Cox wasn't big enough, Tuesday Joe Torre was in the Birthplace of Baseball. He's the one guy out of the six to be enshrined this summer that fans in the Mohawk Valley, Central New York and all throughout the Empire State have been waiting to see and welcome into the pantheon of baseball.
Maddux, Cox, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Tony LaRussa are all guaranteed to bring a lot of people to the Coop during Induction Weekend, but Torre is the crown jewel. During his visit, he got a small glimpse of the respect he's earned throughout his baseball life.
"Growing up you knew where the Hall of Fame was, Cooperstown, N.Y.," Torre said during his sitdown with the gathered media in front of the plaques of the very first Induction class. "But it was always something way out there, I know where it is, but that doesn't mean I'm going to go there to visit, much less be inducted."
Torre's credentials as a player were impressive, batting .297 for his career, with 252 home runs, 1,185 runs batted in, nine All-Star appearances and an MVP season in 1971 with the Cardinals. In that season Torre, led the leagye in batting average and RBI.
But the biggest reason he was elected to the HOF was his managing career, specifically with the Yankees. Torre led the Bronx Bombers back to glory, winning four World Series titles in his first five years.
In his trip around the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Tuesday, Torre was given a firsthand trip back in time courtesy of the artifacts collected through the years.
"You look around and see MLB is about the history of the game," said Torre. "The players that are housed here, they're the best. People who respected and played the game, it was their life as far as I'm concerned. Being worthy to be in a place that they reserve for the people who earn it."
Torre's visit, although not publicized, still managed to bring out a large group of fans, mainstream media such as the Yankees' own YES Network and MLB Productions, as well as local media like WKTV's own Sports Director Mike Levin. that much public attention is just the beginning as the HOF celebrates its 75th Anniversary.
"Having someone like Joe Torre in Cooperstown is great for the village," said HOF President Jeff Idelson. "When you look at the way Torre's led so many organizations in so many different ways, whether it be as a player, where you can make a case for him as a Hall of Famer, to a manager, now an executive, great broadcaster and he's a great human being. So for someone like him to be honored and here today is special for him and for us."
Torre is now the Executive Vice President for MLB and has been heavily involved in the institution of instant replay for the 2014 season. But in the meantime, he's getting ready for the big day on July 27th, when his plaque joins the five other inductees among the greats of the game.
"Hopefully it's going to mean as much to the people here as much as the guy who's going to say it." Torre said. "It's going to come from my heart, because they say baseball's been my whole life and there were so many people boosting me to this spot. I know it's going to be emotional."