Monday, April 18, 2011

Joe Torre (#130)

Today I'm posting another disaster from the 1966 set known as an Atlanta Braves card. Because the team had moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta after the 1965 season, almost every Braves card in the 1966 set is an ugly, hatless, colorless (unless you like lavender) hack job.

Why couldn't Topps have back-loaded the Braves' players to the later series, after they had time to develop the photos (I assume) they took in spring training? I admit, this notion didn't occur to me until tonight, but then, I'm not the one on Topps' payroll heading up the planning department. They could have done the same thing in 1968 with the Athletics. I'm sure fans of these teams wouldn't have minded waiting a bit, so that they could get decent cards of their favorite players. Each of my yearly binders from the 1960s has the cards arranged by teams, and when I get to the Braves' section, it's a Rogues' Gallery at best!

Joe Torre (remember the post title?) was one of the Braves' star players during the 1960s, before going on to play for the Cardinals and Mets in the 1970s.

Joe was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1960 and spent his rookie season in the minors, with a 2-game call-up at the end of the season. In 1961 he played part of the season in the minors, but made the Braves for good that year. Although strictly a catcher in '61 and '62, Joe would play several dozen games at 1st base for the Braves from 1963-68, along with his role as the team's #1 catcher. In 1964, he split his time almost evenly between the 2 positions, as veteran Ed Bailey started over 70 games behind the plate.

After the 1968 season, Torre was traded to the Cardinals for 1st baseman Orlando Cepeda. Since the Cardinals already had an all-star catcher in Tim McCarver, Joe took over the 1st base position on a full-time basis. The following season, with Tim McCarver traded to the Phillies in the Curt Flood for Richie Allen deal, Joe moved back behind the plate. After Torre had started every game at catcher in April and May, rookie Ted Simmons began starting most of the games behind the plate, with Torre moving to a new position - 3rd base. Joe would hold down the regular 3rd base job for the 1971 and 1972 seasons as well.

Torre played in 4 straight all-star games while in St. Louis (1970-73). He also had an excellent 1971 season, winning the MVP award, while leading the league in hits (230), RBI (137), and batting average (.363).

After the 1974 season, he was traded to the Mets, and played the corner infield positions there until his release in June 1977. Immediately after his release, he was hired as the team's manager.

These days, Torre is best remembered for his managerial career, with the Mets (1977-81), Braves (1982-84), Cardinals (1990-95), Yankees (1996-07), and Dodgers (2008-10). Joe managed for 29 seasons, and won 6 pennants and 4 World Series, all with the Yankees.

I heard Torre say recently that this spring is the first since 1959 that he wasn't at spring training with one team or another. He now works for Major League Baseball.


Anonymous said...

Torre reminds me a little of Albert Pujols in this shot.

PS. you're right. I hate hatless shots too... unless the hat is in the midst of coming off

Johngy said...

Wasn't Torre actually a player-manager for the Mets?