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Joe Torre Says He Regrets Leaving Steinbrenner Out of Speech

George Steinbrenner and Joe Torre
New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, left, and manager Joe Torre embrace in the locker room after the Yankees won game four of the World Series against the San Diego Padres at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego in 1998. Photographer: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

July 28 (Bloomberg) -- Joe Torre said he’s upset that he forgot to thank George Steinbrenner and the family of the late New York Yankees’ owner during his 28-minute induction speech at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Torre, who guided the Yankees to four World Series titles during 12 seasons as the team’s manager, was enshrined in the Hall of Fame yesterday in Cooperstown, New York, along with fellow managers Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and slugger Frank Thomas.

Torre thanked family members and acknowledged teammates and coaches from his 18-year Major League Baseball playing career and singled out prominent players from a 29-year managerial stint in which he won 2,326 games, the fifth most all-time. Yet he realized after his speech he only made a passing mention of Steinbrenner, who hired him as Yankees’ manager in 1995.

“As soon as I turned around, I said, ‘I forgot George,’” Torre was quoted as telling reporters by NJ.com. “Not only George, but Hal and the family and the whole thing.”

Torre, 74, in his speech talked about how he was fired three times as a manager and had initially been offered the Yankees’ general manager job when Gene Michael stepped down. Torre said he turned it down because his wife was pregnant at the time and when he asked whether there was vacation time, was told, ‘No, not working for George.’

About a month later, Torre said he became a candidate to replace Buck Showalter as manager. Steinbrenner made 20 managerial changes in his first 23 seasons as Yankees’ owner.

‘My Man’

“The call came from George Steinbrenner that says, ‘You’re my man,’” Torre said in his speech before an estimated crowd of about 48,000. “Well, I know George’s history, and I know my brother, Frank, said, ‘You’re crazy.’ But I knew if I was ever going to find out if I was going to do this stuff, this was going to be my best opportunity.”

Torre, now an MLB executive vice president of baseball operations, said afterward he was bothered about not directly thanking Steinbrenner because he wouldn’t have been elected to the Hall of Fame without his support. Steinbrenner died in 2010 and his son Hal now runs the team as managing general partner.

“I mentioned his name a few times,” Torre was quoted as saying by NJ.com. “Not the way I wanted to. I was with Hal last night and I gave all my accolades, but I think when you’re putting your stuff together, you’re taking for granted that’s a given, and then you run right through it.”

December Election

Torre was elected to the Hall of Fame in December and said he rewrote his speech several times in recent weeks, including a final time the morning before the induction ceremony.

“I had a bigger plan for him and I was mortified. It just killed me,” Torre said this morning on ESPN Radio of omitting Steinbrenner. “He was so large of an issue for me in my speech that I just took it for granted that it was going to come out and I went right by it to my family.”

Torre, who spoke beyond his allotted 10 minutes, said he also forgot to introduce former Yankees pitcher Ron Guidry, who was in attendance at the ceremony, and recognize ex-Yankees trainer Gene Monahan, who spent 49 years with the team.

“They say you’re going to forget somebody, and I was hoping I wouldn’t,” Torre said. “I certainly did and George was the one that as soon as I stepped away from the podium, my heart sunk. It certainly wasn’t intentional.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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