Retired New York Yankees manager and four-time World Series winner Joe Torre was on-hand at Thursday for the Somerset Patriots’ final home game of the 2011 season to be honored for his community service work.
Torre was presented the first-ever Somerset Patriots Outstanding Community Service Award, recognizing the future Hall of Fame skipper for his work in the fight against domestic abuse.
Torre, who is now the executive vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball, does his charitable work primarily through the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation, which, according to an official press release on the Somerset Patriots’ website, is meant “to end the cycle of domestic abuse and save lives” by providing resources to abused families.
“I just want to make sure we all know that he is also the greatest humanitarian, and one of the greatest people, we’ve ever known,” said Josh Kalafer, Co-Vice Chairman of the Somerset Patriots. “With his wife Ali, the work he’s done through the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation is incredible. His contributions are immeasurable, and that is really the true reason we’re so honored to have him here with us tonight.”
Torre was equally as complimentary toward the Patriots’ organization.
“I was here when this ballpark was being finished, and it’s a special place," he said. "The reason it’s a special place is you bring family, you bring friends, and it’s a great place to meet up. To me, baseball is a family game."
“I know, sometimes at our level, when I was managing in the big leagues, they make it sound like something that is impersonal, but your ballpark here, your team, your ownership, all your sponsors and the people that make this possible know how important it is to family and friends, and to have baseball be something you can embrace,” he added.
Torre thanked the Patriots for inviting him out to the game.
"And more importantly, thank you for making me feel welcome,” he said.
In addition to the award, Torre was presented with an autographed Somerset Patriots jersey by several current Patriots players, including manager Sparky Lyle.
Torre, who noted the Patriots’ struggles this season, took a playful jab at his friend Lyle.
“The man has courage like no other person," Torre said. "It’s nice to know, because it makes me feel good in my heart, that good managers sometimes have losing records. That makes me feel good.”
Torre then assured the organization, its players, coaches and the fans in attendance that brighter days—and future championships—lie ahead.
“I’m sure 2012 will be a bounce-back year in a great organization,” he said. “Now that I have this job where I can make my own schedule, I would love to be here next year to give you a hug and congratulations on another ring.”