Tuesday, January 20, 2015

no. 370 - joe torre

Who is the man: Man, oh, man, Joe Torre was about to reach the summit of his playing career when this card was issued. The 203 hits and .325 batting average that he compiled in 1970 was a prelude to his MVP year in 1971.

Can ya dig it: One of those terrific 1971 action shots in which I can't help but wonder who the Cardinal is on deck. I'm going to guess first baseman Joe Hague just because he seemed to bat behind Torre a lot during the 1970 season (this is based on research, I wasn't old enough to watch games in 1970).

Right on: This -- along with the Vida Blue card from this set -- were the first 1971 Topps card images I ever saw. Torre's '71 card appeared in the MVP subset in 1975 Topps and the '71 MVPs was one of the cards I pulled from those first three packs I purchased in '75.

You see that cat Torre is a bad mother: It's not easy to be both an excellent player and an excellent manager in the major leagues, but Torre was that.

Shut your mouth: Manager Whitey Herzog respected Torre's managing abilities, but called him "the worst catcher I ever saw."

No one understands him but his woman: Torre and his wife, Ali, went on a four-day self-improvement seminar just after he was named manager of the Yankees. Torre credited that seminar for helping him open up, share his emotions and not take on the world by himself.

(A word about the back): Torre received the chance to catch Spahn's 300th game because Del Crandall, who was considered Spahn's personal catcher, suffered an injury-plagued season in 1961.

1 comment:

  1. Like you, I first became aware of this card (and a number of others) through the MVP insert in 1975 Topps. After 40 years of seeing a tiny little image of the card, I acquired the real thing last year and it just looked odd to see the card in full size and not surrounded by a pink and yellow border.

    I don't mean to pick nits, but referring to Del Crandall as Spahn's personal catcher makes it sound like most of Crandall's playing time came when Spahn pitched. While I don't doubt that Spahn preferred pitching to Crandall and Joe Torre wouldn't have caught Spahn's 300th under ideal conditions, Crandall was the Braves starting catcher for most of the 1950's and 1960, made multiple All-Star teams and won three Gold Gloves... While Joe Torre was a 20-year-old thrust into a starting job.