Even for the casual baseball fan, Joe Torre doesn’t really need an introduction—especially here in Westchester, where he and his wife, Ali, have been homeowners since 1996 (they still maintain a home in Harrison).
But for those of you who spent the past decade removed from civilization, a brief background: Torre managed the Yankees from 1996 to 2007, reaching the post season each of those years en route to six American League pennants and four World Series wins. After leaving the Yankees, he spent time managing the Dodgers and now works in the commissioner’s office of the MLB. Off the diamond, the Torres have been just as successful with the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation, which touches the lives of thousands of families and children affected by domestic abuse each year.
On July 17, the Foundation will host a celebrity golf and tennis event at the Sleepy Hollow Coun¬try Club, where, in addition to playing a round of golf with a celebrity, you can enjoy a brunch buf¬fet, cock¬tail recep¬tion, silent auc¬tion, and awards cer¬e¬mony. All pro¬ceeds from the event will go toward main¬tain¬ing and expand¬ing the Foundation’s in-school pro¬gram¬, Margaret’s Place, a “safe room” where students can speak with pro¬fes-sional coun¬selors trained in domes¬tic vio¬lence inter¬ven¬tion and pre¬ven¬tion, of which there are currently four in Westchester.
In anticipation of the event, we caught up with Joe and Ali to talk Westchester—with a little baseball for good measure.
Westchester Magazine: When did you guys first move to Westchester?
Joe Torre: Well, when I was off at the Yankees job—actually, Ali moved before I did because that particular season, we opened on the road. So I guess you can say we were there in March 1996.
Why did you choose Westchester?
Joe: I’m a New Yorker, and I always heard good things about Westchester. When I was managing the Mets, I knew a good deal of the players lived in Connecticut, but Westchester has always been a curiosity for me because I had never spent a lot of time there. I had heard that it was a real great place to live, and it certainly didn’t disappoint us.
Did you first move to Harrison?
Joe: No. We first moved to New Rochelle. We rented a house there, and that’s when Ali started her trek to look for a place for us to buy.
Ali Torre: Well, actually, when Joe took the job with the Yankees, we asked if we should buy or rent. The message came back from Mr. Steinbrenner that we should rent. Fortunately, the Yankees won the World Series in 1996. So after that we were like, “Okay, I guess we can buy now!”
What were your initial impressions of Westchester when you moved here? Was it a difficult move or seamless?
Ali: It was a big adjustment for me, since I grew up in Cincinnati. But we moved into New Rochelle and we just befriended so many great people. Our daughter was an infant at the time and then once she started school—she went to pre-school at Resurrection in Rye—of course, it’s a great way to meet people when you have a little child. We were very fortunate to meet a lot of great people through that experience
Joe: Plus, I still had family there. I had two sisters who lived in the area, and an older son and daughter who also were living there. So it was just nice to reconnect.
Do you guys come back to Westchester often?
Ali: We come back often because our foundation’s headquarters are based in the City. And Joe has his office is in the City with MLB [Joe is currently executive vice president of Baseball Operations for MLB]. But our daughter is in high school in LA, so we decided to keep her in school here and we commute back and forth.
What type of things do you like to do around the area?
Ali: We visit friends and I enjoy hiking and playing tennis and golf in the summertime, if I have the chance. We also have a lake house up in Lake Mahopac. So we spend a lot of time up there on the lake.
Do you miss anything about Westchester when you’re back on the West Coast?
Ai: Well, we miss the pizza…
Joe: Yeah, the restaurants and just the comfort of living in Westchester. There’s pretty much anything you want to do. It was convenient for me when I was managing the Yankees because once we moved to Harrison in ’97, it was door-to-door 20 miles to Yankee Stadium. So it was a pretty easy commute for me and it gave me enough time to sort of decompress on the way home.
Do you miss any restaurant in particular?
Ali: Well, Sal’s Pizzeria is one of our daughter’s favorites.
Do the Yankees hold a soft place in your heart?
Joe: For me, it was a great opportunity. It really made my professional career. I can just say that being a New Yorker, you knew what the Yankees represented. And I had started my managing career with the Mets back in 1977, so it was a great opportunity to come back to New York. And even though I had played baseball for 17 years, managing and managing in your hometown and being successful made my career.
Since you’re still working in baseball, do you keep up with all the games?
Joe: I watch a lot of games. I can’t say I watch them all because there are like 15 a day. Basically, I’m in charge of everything you see on the field—whether you like it or not. The commissioner approached me about a year before I retired from managing and said that when I decide to quit, that he had an opportunity for me. It’s been fun because I stay connected with the game—yet don’t have to deal with the stress of winning and losing.
So then do you ever plan on returning to managing?
Joe: Bite your tongue, now! I just had a little experience this past spring with Team USA [in the World Baseball Classic], which was a kick. I really enjoyed it for the three weeks we were together to get players from all over baseball, both the American and National League, and just have them together for a couple of days. Even though we only got to the second round, the fact that they blended together and played together satisfied me because I have always been one to promote the teamwork type of atmosphere. So, even though they say we didn’t get as far as we wanted to, it was a great experience for me. But, again, I don’t think I’d really want to do it over 12 months a year.
Why did you pick Sleepy Hollow as opposed to somewhere on the West Coast for your golf event?
Joe: We had a West Coast event one time, but we started our Safe at Home Foundation while we were in New York. We had it for a number of years at Trump National in Briarcliff Manor, and we just looked to do something a little different. Rob Manfred, who is an executive VP over at MLB, was a member at Sleepy Hollow [Country Club] and he suggested we go over there. We’ve added tennis this year, so we’re going to have Jim Courier be our tennis host. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed that it’s going to be a sunny day. And it’s going to be on the 17th, the day after the All Star Game, so we expect to have a good complement of celebrities.