Yankees to retire Joe Torre's number, honor Tino Martinez and Paul O'Neill
The Yankees' almost endless list of retired numbers will have another digit added to it this year, as the team announced that it will retire former manager Joe Torre's No. 6 on Aug. 23. Torre, who managed the team from 1996 until 2007, won four World Series titles with the Yankees, including the last three-peat in major league history from 1998-2000. The team also said it will be putting plaques in Yankee Stadium's Monument Park for Goose Gossage, Tino Martinez and Paul O'Neill.
In his time with New York, Torre went 1,173-767 (a winning percentage of .605), leading the Yankees to 10 AL East titles, two wild-cards, six pennants and those four world championships. He also won the Manger of the Year award twice (in '96 and '98). Torre's first title with the team was the franchise's first since 1978, and he guided New York to a then-American League record 114 wins in '98. Torre, who also managed the Mets, Braves, Cardinals and Dodgers, is fifth on the all-time managerial wins list and is the winningest manager in Yankees history, with 24 more than Hall of Famer Casey Stengel. Torre will join Stengel and fellow former Yankees skippers Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy in Cooperstown this summer.
Despite all of Torre's successes in the Bronx, his relationship with the team soured toward the end of his 12-year tenure. His teams fell in the World Series in 2001 to Arizona and 2003 to Florida, with '03 being New York's last pennant under Torre. In 2004, the Yankees were stunned in the ALCS by the Red Sox despite leading 3-games-to-0 in the best-of-seven series; New York was knocked out of the postseason in the Division Series three straight years after that. In 2007, after the Yankees fell behind 2-games-to-0 in the ALDS against the Indians, owner George Steinbrenner told the press that Torre would not return as manager if the team couldn't beat Cleveland. New York ultimately dropped the series in four games, but after the season, the club offered Torre a one-year contract worth $5 million. That new deal represented a $2.5 million pay cut from the previous season, however, and Torre ultimately rejected it, telling the media in a press conference, "I just felt the contract offer and the terms of the contract were probably the thing I had the toughest time with." In his book The Yankee Years, published in 2009, Torre criticized general manager Brian Cashman, who he felt betrayed him in those final negotiations with the team.
Torre also had a contentious relationship with Alex Rodriguez at times. Torre made the controversial move of batting A-Rod eighth in Game 4 of the 2006 ALDS against Detroit, and the two reportedly did not get along in the Yankees' clubhouse. In Torre's book, he revealed that other players referred to A-Rod as "A-Fraud" and believed that the clubhouse had been strained by Rodriguez's addition before the 2004 season.
After leaving the Yankees, Torre managed the Dodgers, spending three years with the team and winning NL West titles in 2008 and '09 before retiring after the 2010 season. Since 2011, Torre has been the Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations for MLB. He was also the manager for Team USA during the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Torre's No. 6 has not been worn by any Yankees player or coach since he left the team after the 2007 season. The last player to wear it before Torre was shortstop Tony Fernandez in 1995. Other players who have donned No. 6 in pinstripes include Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Gordon and leftfielder Roy White, who spent his entire 14-year career with the Yankees from 1966 to 1979. All told, the franchise has retired 18 numbers, including No. 8 for both Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey and No. 42 for both Jackie Robinson and Mariano Rivera.
Though their numbers won't be joining Torre's on the wall in Monument Park, Gossage, Martinez and O'Neill will get honors of their own with plaques. Gossage, who was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2008, put together a brilliant seven-season run in New York from 1979 to 1983 as a relief ace, with 151 saves and a 2.14 ERA in 533 innings. Martinez, who played in the Bronx from 1996-2001 and in 2005, hit .276/.347/.484 for the Yankees, helping them win four World Series titles. O'Neill was also a part of those four championship teams and hit .303/.377/.492 in nine seasons with New York. The last plaque dedicated in Yankee Stadium was in 2010, for Steinbrenner; the last player honored with a plaque was Hall of Famer Red Ruffing, in 2004. It's probably not a coincidence that Torre, Martinez and O'Neill are being honored in former teammate Derek Jeter's final season. And Torre's No. 6 will likely soon have the company of Jeter's No. 2 in a few years' time.