Former manager Joe Torre received a prolonged standing ovation as he returned to the New York Yankees for his Old Timers’ Day debut.
Torre received the loudest cheers yesterday at Yankee Stadium as he has donned his No. 6 uniform for the first time since he left the team in 2007.
“Putting it on it felt good,” Torre said of the uniform. “Taking it off was quite emotional in ’07.”
Torre, 70, managed the Yankees for 12 seasons from 1996, winning World Series titles in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000. He’s now Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of baseball operations.
A former player and manager with the New York Mets, Torre left the Yankees after rejecting a one-year, $5 million offer, which he called insulting. He was the Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager from 2008-10.
Other newcomers among the Yankees’ 50 Old Timers’ Day honorees were former manager Lou Piniella and Bernie Williams, the center fielder on four World Series championship teams.
“I haven’t been home in what, 20 years, so it’s been special,” the 67-year-old Piniella told reporters before the Yankees’ 6-4 win over the Colorado Rockies.
Piniella ended his 23-year managerial career last season, when he retired from the Chicago Cubs. Piniella spent the last 11 seasons of his 18-year playing career with the Yankees and managed the club from 1986-88 before going on to managerial stints with Cincinnati, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Chicago.
Williams, 42, batted .297 with 287 home runs in his 16-year playing career, spent entirely with the Yankees. The five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner retired after the 2006 season.
“It’s a really big thing for me. If you’d take out the word ‘old,’ I’d probably be a little more comfortable,” Williams said. “When I was playing, I always looked forward to this day. It reminded me of the fact that we were all part of a family that has been going on for 100 years.”
Others attendees included Hall of Fame players Yogi Berra, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Reggie Jackson and Whitey Ford. Tino Martinez hit a two-run home run off David Cone as the Bombers beat the Clippers 2-0 in the Old Timers’ Game.
The Yankees then beat the Rockies as Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada hit fifth-inning home runs to erase a 3-0 deficit and Mark Teixeira added another in the eighth. It was Teixeira’s team-leading 23rd home run of the season.
The Yankees won two of three games in the series to improve to 45-31 and remain a half-game ahead of the Boston Red Sox atop the American League East standings.
The Yankees also used yesterday’s celebrations to honor the 49 years service of head athletic trainer Gene Monahan.
Monahan, 67, said last month that this would be his final year with the club, which he joined as a 17-year-old bat boy.
In announcing his retirement, Monahan said he planned to move to North Carolina and get a pickup truck and a Labrador retriever he’d call Schrader. Yesterday, the Yankees presented Monahan with a Ford F-150 truck, a black Labrador, a 15-day trip to Europe’s Alps, a riding lawnmower, a painting of the old Yankee Stadium and two seats from the original stadium in appreciation for his service. Monahan also threw out the first pitch before the Old Timers’ Day game.
“All of us are trying to enjoy this last year having Geno around,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said in a video tribute to Monahan. “We’re going to miss him.”