LAS VEGAS — Joe Torre spoke like a man who had seen the light. Or if you’re someone who believes George Steinbrenner belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame, the dark.
The manager who won four of the Yankees’ seven championships during Steinbrenner’s 37 full seasons as owner served on the Today’s Game Committee that delivered fewer than five of 16 votes in favor of The Boss’ Cooperstown candidacy. While Torre, himself inducted in 2014, has publicly supported Steinbrenner’s Hall of Fame case, he didn’t sound particularly optimistic Monday about that desire becoming a reality.
“I’m biased. This man gave me an opportunity to manage his team, and I’ll always be appreciative of that,” Torre told The Post following a winter meetings news conference to introduce new electees Harold Baines and Lee Smith. “You’ve got 15 other people [on the committee]. … Obviously not enough people felt that he was worthy of the Hall of Fame. You’ve got to take everything into consideration.”
While the Hall forbids committee members from divulging their votes publicly, it’s clear the “everything” of Steinbrenner’s baseball life has put his enshrinement in serious jeopardy. He drew two multi-year suspensions from the game for his conduct, and those red flags have mitigated both the enormous success of his Yankees clubs and his indisputable impact on the way the game’s business is run.
This marked Steinbrenner’s fourth shot on a committee ballot (each committee has featured a mix of Hall of Famers, current executives, media members and historians), and he hasn’t garnered so much as half of the votes in any of his opportunities. When asked whether Yankees fans — mostly a sophisticated group that appreciates the many “cons” on The Boss’ ledger — should give up hope of this historical wrong being righted, Torre, while again praising Steinbrenner, reiterated: “There are a lot of things to consider.”
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