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Torre becomes fifth-winningest manager of all time

Jun 19, 2009, 11:47 AM EDT

By beating the A’s last night Joe Torre moved past Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson for fifth place on the all-time wins list with 2,195.

“If you told me a dozen years ago that I’d be in this rarefied air, I’d
tell you you’re full of baloney because I certainly started way under
.500 when I took over the Yankees in 1996,” Torre said. “I have to
thank George Steinbrenner for putting me in a position to do this. I’ve
admired what Sparky did for all those years, and I’m proud to be in
that company.”

Torre is certainly right about his career path being different than
you’d expect from the fifth-winningest skipper in baseball history, as
he became a manager in 1977 at the age of 36 and spent five seasons
going just 286-420 (.405) with the Mets. By comparison, Anderson won
102 games as a 36-year-old rookie manager in 1970, and had four NL
pennants and two World Series titles after seven seasons on the job.

Not only did Torre start slow, he had a modest 894-1,003 (.471)
career record when Steinbrenner hired him to take over the Yankees as a
55-year-old in 1996. The rest is history, of course, as Torre won six
AL pennants, four championships, and 60 percent of his games during a
dozen seasons in New York and has gone 128-101 (.559) in two seasons in
Los Angeles.

Torre will have a very difficult time moving higher than fifth on
the all-time wins list because he has two active managers ahead of him
in Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and they lead him by 162 and 301 wins,
respectively. Of course, his standing in the top five is also very
safe, as 65-year-old Lou Piniella is the next-closest active manager
with 463 fewer wins and no one else is even within 800.

Connie Mack is the all-time leader with an amazing 3,731, which is
35 percent more than second place John McGraw at 2,763. To put that
into some context, consider that Torre could win 100 games per season
until the age of 80 and he’d still be 280 shy of Mack. Also consider
that, among the 10 managers with 2,000 victories, Mack is the only one
with a sub-.500 record. He managed an astounding 7,755 games–only 347
fewer than Torre and Anderson combined–and won 48.6 percent of them.

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