The Dodgers' great New York hope arrived in Los Angeles Monday. The team introduced famed Yankees manager Joe Torre as the man who'll turn the struggling team around. But KPCC's Frank Stoltze reports that Torre was more reticent about the idea.
Frank Stoltze: The fog hung low over Dodger Stadium as Joe Torre emerged from the dugout and strode with his wife to centerfield to meet reporters. Dodger announcer Vin Scully got things started.
Vin Scully: Hi everybody, and a very pleasant good morning to you. Welcome to Dodger Stadium, on what the Irish would call "a soft day."
[Sound of applause]
Joe Torre: Wow. This has been wild here. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind for my wife Ali and myself.
Stoltze: Last month, Torre parted ways with the New York Yankees after leading the team to 12 straight playoff berths and four World Series titles.
The 67-year-old Torre remembered rooting against the Brooklyn Dodgers as a kid growing up in New York. And he remembered coming to Dodger Stadium as a player, hearing Vin Scully.
Torre: He was very distracting when we'd come in as the opposing team, 'cause you'd stand at home plate and you'd hear Vinny, because everybody brought their transistor radios, and you could hear Vinny so beautifully: "Torre struck out again." (laughter)
Stoltze: Torre said he was honored to now manage one of the most storied baseball teams in history, albeit one that's struggling with player morale. Torre is known for working well with his players. He says he patterns himself after his old Cardinals manager, Red Schoendienst.
Torre: Red taught me that the game belongs to the players. I still feel that way. Not that we shouldn't direct them and help them along the way, but the game belongs to the players. And he treated everybody like a man. And being treated like a man, I think, is all about being accountable, being responsible, and all those things. I think Red made it simple.
[Sound of cameras clicking, Torre receiving congratulations]
Stoltze: Torre's arrival drew intense interest from the media and Dodgers players. Pitcher Brad Penny attended the news conference.
Brad Penny: Joe's been through it all as a player and as a manager and you can't get that experience from everyone. He's used to winning too, so I'm excited, man. I'm looking forward to it.
Stoltze: Former manager Tommy Lasorda led the last Dodger team to the World Series – in 1988.
Tommy Lasorda: Before I die and go visit the big Dodger in the sky, I want to see that World Series flag again.
Stoltze: You think Torre's going to bring it?
Lasorda: I hope and pray he does.
Stoltze: As the questions wound down, Raul Valdez of A-One Party Rentals stood by ready to load up the tables and chairs and platform. Maybe Torre can bring back the old Dodgers.
Raul Valdez: Maybe we get back to the days of Steve Garvey and Steve Sax. Hopefully that happens here. Just waiting to see what happens.
Stoltze: Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said he brought Torre to L.A. for one reason: To win.
Frank McCourt: It has been far too long since Dodger fans have tasted the fruits of victory, or Dodger players have raised a World Series trophy.
Stoltze: Joe Torre knows better.
Joe Torre: I've learned a lotta lessons during my baseball life, and you know, winning is very important, yes. But it's more important to build a foundation that will make winning on a regular basis very important. And you hope you succeed.
Stoltze: Torre becomes the second manager to lead both Yankees and Dodgers. Casey Stengel led the Brooklyn Dodgers in the '30s and the Yankees in the '50s.