Destined to be remembered as the sage leader of the New York Yankees of the end of the 20th century and into the early 2000s, Joe Torre was first a great ballplayer in his prime. He was an excellent hitter and a very, very good defensive third baseman who came to the major leagues as a catcher. He will go into the Hall of Fame as a manager, but he should get consideration as a player, as well.
How much did the Braves value the young Torre? In 1966, Atlanta manager Bobby Bragan was asked who he would choose if he was starting a team, Willie Mays or Sandy Koufax? He replied: “Neither. I’d pick Joe Torre,” Bragan said. “We know he can hit and catch the ball … he’s baseball’s best catcher … but he’s also a smart ballplayer … far beyond a fellow of his age.”