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Joe Torre to attend Yankees Old-Timers Day

Mar 18, 2011, 6:02 AM EDT

Joe Torre AP

Jim Bouton wrote a tell-all book that angered the Yankees. They kept him away from Old Timers Day for close to 30 years and, if it wasn’t for an emotional plea in the New York Times by one of his sons following the tragic death of Bouton’s daughter, they may not have even invited him back when they did.

The team is much better about letting bygones be bygones now, because Joe Torre wrote a tell-all book that angered the Yankees too, and only a couple short years later Torre will be back in pinstripes:

Joe Torre is headed back to the Bronx. No, the man who led the Yankees to four World Series titles isn’t planning a return to managing, but he revealed Thursday that he will attend his first Old-Timers’ Day on June 26 at Yankee Stadium.

“I may be letting the cat out of the bag, but I was invited back for Old-Timers’ Day,” said Torre, who stopped by Steinbrenner Field Thursday as part of his spring training tour in his new role as MLB’s executive VP for baseball operations. “I’m planning on going.”

In other news, I wasn’t aware that former managers attended Old Timers Day. Given the Yankees pre-Torre experience with turnover, that could make for a really crowded dugout.

  1. yankeesfanlen - Mar 18, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    (Ahem) Yogi has gone to every Old Timers game since his reconciliation with George, the first being July 18, 1999. That had taken about 15 years, so it’s nice to see Joe back after only 3.
    Personally, I consider the Yankees Old Timers Day to be the biggest game of the year.

  2. Old Gator - Mar 18, 2011 at 8:25 AM

    Considering that Elston Howard had all but threatened to kill Bouton with his bare hands if he ever got within throat-grabbing range of him, the ban was probably more for Bouton’s own good than anything else – especially when, for years afterwards, Bouton used his sports anchor position on Eyewitness News to take lots of snide (and very funny) jabs at his former catcher and other teams and teammates.

    By the way, that Grimsby-Beutel-Bouton and Co. bunch on Eyewitness News may well have been the most hilarious news team ever assembled on one screen.I still crack up when I think of them.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 18, 2011 at 8:28 AM

      Funny on Howard. I’m a little fuzzy because it’s been a while since I read it, but besides saying that he cut/scuffed balls on the buckle of his shin guards, he seemed to get off pretty lightly compared some of the other Yankees. Maybe I’m forgetting something. Or maybe Howard was just the self-appointed protector of clubhouse omerta.

      • antelope850 - Mar 18, 2011 at 10:36 AM

        Bouton told a story about how a Yankee player anonymously ripped Yankee manager (Johnny Keane I think) in the papers. Keane held a meeting about it, and Elston Howard got up and said stuff like, whoever said these things we should find him out and kick his butt, or words to that effect. And Bouton said he felt a lot of eyes on him, even though he never hid behind anonymous quotes with writers. Bouton said he asked the writer of the story to tell him who his source was if he promised never to tell. The writer told him, and Bouton kept the promise until Ball Four came out. It was Elston Howard. There was some other stuff with Bouton portraying Howard as “less than militant” on race issues, but I think that was the biggie that must have hurt Howard. When Bouton was finally invited to Old Timers Day, he said his biggest (only) regret of Ball Four was not giving balance to Howard in the book. That Howard was the guy who got him through the games, gave him the nickname Bulldog. He said he remembers him in such a great light, but only really put negative stuff in the book, and he wished Howard was alive so he could apologize.

      • Old Gator - Mar 18, 2011 at 11:00 AM

        I met Bouton at a Cowboy Junkies concert in Great Barrington, MA last May (which revelation of his exquisite musical tastes could only add to my long held admiration for him). A friend of mine who was with me freaked when he realized who he was, and began gushing about how much he loved Ball Four. Bouton actually turned a little red but was friendly, easygoing. Notwithstanding, Bouton once commented on Eyewitness News that Howard had threatened him and shook his head wistfully, remarking, “and this was the same guy who named me Bulldog.” You could see he regretted the situation even then. Antelope850, thanks for filling in the details.

  3. garryfish - Mar 18, 2011 at 9:17 AM

    Old Gator, don’t forget Tex Antoine with the weather.

    • Old Gator - Mar 18, 2011 at 10:53 AM

      Right, I apologize to Tex, RIP, despite his massive faux pas that got him canned and began the unraveling of that great news team; he came on one night a couple of sheets to the wind, as they say, and when his segment directly followed a news story about a rape, he giggled and said, “well, you know what they say; if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” Finis operis. There were conflicting stories about whether he was drunk, stoned or reacting to some new medication, but regardless, thet thar was the end of Tex. He would sometimes follow Bouton by giving the temperatures of various cities like a sportscaster – “Kansas City defeated Cincinnati 67-58,” that kind of thing, and some nights he got pretty wacky in the way he handled his predictions. I hated to see him go, but I’ve moved on to Stephanie Abrams – who can be just as whacked out as Tex at his best, and is a hell of a lot easier to look at – and am a happier man for it.

  4. Chipmaker - Mar 18, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    Would it be that crowded with former managers? Discounting the deceased who appear in ethereal form and, therefore, don’t actually take up space (though perhaps the living would avoid walking through them anyway), here’s who could appear:

    Casey — deceased.
    Ralph Houk — deceased.
    Yogi — alive, but he shows up anyway.
    John Keane — deceased.
    Bill Virdon — alive.
    Billy — deceased.
    Dick Howser — deceased.
    Bob Lemon — deceased.
    Gene Michael — alive.
    Clyde King — alive.
    Lou Piniella — alive.
    Dallas Green — alive, and carries added poignancy this year.
    Bucky Dent — alive, gets invited as a player anyway (forgettable as a manager).
    Stump Merrill — alive.
    Buck Showalter — alive, but busy running the Orioles.
    Joe — alive, attending.

    That’s ten, two of whom get player invitations. Showalter won’t be in the visitor’s dugout that day (wait, the Rockies? The legendary Olde Tymers Day is against an interleague opponent? That just doesn’t feel right), and Torre sez he’ll be there anyway. At most, the new Yankee Stadium would have to accommodate an additional six bodies. That’s gotta be workable.

    • bigharold - Mar 18, 2011 at 5:03 PM

      Forget Torre and all that “letting the cat out of the bag” stuff. This is the first year that Piniella isn’t managing,. He’s going to be the big surprise and one that I’m going to look forward to seeing.

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