Joe Torre

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For the comedian of a similar name, see Joe Torry.
Joe Torre
Joetorre1995.jpg
Torre in 1995.
Catcher / First baseman /
Third baseman / Manager
Born: (1940-07-18) July 18, 1940 (age 74)
Brooklyn, New York
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 25, 1960 for the Milwaukee Braves
Last MLB appearance
June 17, 1977 for the New York Mets
Career statistics
Batting average .297
Home runs 252
Runs batted in 1,185
Games managed 4,329
Win–loss record 2,326–1,997
Winning % .538
Teams

As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
Induction 2014
Vote 100.0% (Expansion Era Committee)

Joseph Paul "Joe" Torre (/ˈtɔri/; born July 18, 1940) is an American professional baseball executive and former baseball manager and player. A nine-time All-Star, he was a Major League Baseball (MLB) catcher, first baseman and a third baseman for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, and the St. Louis Cardinals during his playing career. Torre won the 1971 National League (NL) Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) after leading the major leagues in batting average (.363), hits (230), and runs batted in (RBI) with 137. His playing career totals included a .297 batting average with 252 home runs and 1185 RBI in 2209 games.[1]

After his retirement as a player in 1977, Torre managed the same three teams for which he played, before leading the New York Yankees and ending his managerial career with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011. He briefly served as a player-manager for the Mets in 1977. Torre's most successful stint as a manager came with the Yankees, whom he led from 1996 to 2007. The Yankees reached the postseason each year and won ten American League East division titles, six American League pennants, four World Series titles, and compiled a .605 winning percentage overall. With 2,326 wins, he is fifth all-time in MLB history for wins as a manager. After retiring as a manager from the Dodgers, Torre took on a new role for Major League Baseball to work with Commissioner Bud Selig as the Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations.

Playing career[edit]

Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves (1960–68)[edit]

Torre followed in his brother Frank's footsteps when he was signed by the Milwaukee Braves as an amateur free agent in 1960.[1] In his first season in the minor leagues with the Class A Eau Claire Braves, he won the 1960 Northern League batting championship with a .344 batting average.[2][3] Torre made his major league debut late in the season on September 25, 1960.[1] He was assigned to the Triple A Louisville Colonels for the 1961 season where, the Braves had planned to groom him as the eventual successor to their All-Star catcher, Del Crandall.[4] However, those plans were changed when Crandall injured his throwing arm in May 1961, forcing the Braves to promote Torre to the major leagues with just over a year of minor league experience.[4] Torre rose to the occasion, hitting for a .278 batting average with 21 doubles and 10 home runs.[1] He finished the season ranked second to Billy Williams in the 1961 National League Rookie of the Year voting.[5]

Crandall resumed his role as the number one catcher in 1962 while Torre stayed on as the back-up catcher.[6] By the 1963 season, the Braves had begun to play Crandall at first base as Torre had taken over the starting catcher's role.[7][8] He ended the season with a .293 batting average with 14 home runs and 71 runs batted in and, earned a spot as a reserve for the National League team in the 1963 All-Star Game.[1][9] In December 1963, the Braves traded Crandall to the San Francisco Giants leaving Torre as the undisputed number one catcher.[10]

Torre had a breakout year in 1964 when he hit 12 home runs along with a .312 batting average by mid-season and was voted to be the starting catcher for the National League in the 1964 All-Star Game.[11][12] He ended the season with a .321 batting average, fourth highest in the league, along with 20 home runs and 109 runs batted in and led National League catchers with a .995 fielding percentage.[1][13][14] Despite the fact that the Braves finished the season in fifth place, Torre ranked fifth in voting for the 1964 National League Most Valuable Player Award.[15]

In 1965, Torre was once again voted to be the starting catcher for the National League in the 1965 All-Star Game and won his first and only Gold Glove Award.[16][17] He ended the season with 27 home runs and 80 runs batted in although his batting average dipped to .291.[1] In his book, The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, baseball historian Bill James said the decision to award Torre the 1965 Gold Glove was absurd, stating that he was given the award because of his offensive statistics and that, either John Roseboro or Tom Haller were more deserved of the award.[18] In an article for the St. Petersburg Independent that year, Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac called Torre "the best catcher since Roy Campanella."[19]

The Braves relocated to Atlanta for the 1966 season and would play their games in the new Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium which, due to its less dense atmosphere in the high elevation in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, made it favorable to home run hitters, resulting in the nickname The Launching Pad.[20] On April 12, 1966, Torre hit the first major league home run in the history of the Atlanta stadium.[21] Torre would produce a career-high 36 home runs with 101 runs batted in, a .315 batting average, a .382 on-base percentage and, led National League catchers with a 48.6% caught stealing percentage.[1] He was voted as the starting catcher for the National League All-Star team for the third successive year.[22] His offensive production tapered off in 1967 with a .277 batting average with 68 runs batted in although he still hit 20 home runs and won his fourth consecutive start in the 1967 All-Star Game.[1][23] He posted another sub-par season in 1968 with a .271 batting average, 10 home runs and 55 runs batted in however, he led National League catchers with a .996 fielding percentage.[1][24]

Before the 1969 season, Torre became embroiled in a feud with Braves General Manager Paul Richards over his salary.[25] Eventually, the Braves would trade Torre to the St. Louis Cardinals for the 1967 Most Valuable Player Award winner, Orlando Cepeda.[26]

St. Louis Cardinals (1969–74)[edit]

The Cardinals had Tim McCarver as their starting catcher so Torre replaced the departed Cepeda as their first baseman for the 1969 season.[27] His offensive statistics rebounded and he ended the season with a .289 batting average with 18 home runs and 101 runs batted in.[1] In 1970, the Cardinals traded away McCarver along with Byron Browne, Curt Flood and Joe Hoerner to the Philadelphia Phillies for Dick Allen, Jerry Johnson and Cookie Rojas.[28] Allen took over as the Cardinals' first baseman while Torre split his playing time between playing third base and sharing catching duties with young prospect Ted Simmons.[29] His offensive statistics continued to improve; he hit 21 home runs with 100 runs batted in and finished second to Rico Carty in the National League batting championship with a .325 batting average.[1][30]

The Cardinals made Simmons their full-time catcher in 1971, leaving Torre to concentrate on playing third base. Freed from the mentally challenging, strength-sapping job of catching, Torre had a career-season offensively.[31][32] He was hitting for a .359 batting average at mid-season and was voted to be the starting third baseman for the National League in the 1971 All-Star Game.[33][34] Torre won the National League Batting Championship, hitting .363 and led the league with 137 runs batted in, en route to winning the 1971 National League Most Valuable Player award.[35][36] Adapting to a new defensive position proved to be a challenge as Torre led the league's third basemen with 21 errors.[37] In December, he was awarded the 1971 Hutch Award, given annually to the player who best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire of Fred Hutchinson.[38]

In 1972, Torre won his second consecutive starting role as third baseman for the National League in the All-Star Game. However, his offensive numbers for the season dipped to a .289 batting average with 11 home runs and 81 runs batted in.[1] After two more sub-par seasons, the Cardinals traded the 34-year-old Torre to the New York Mets for Ray Sadecki with Tommy Moore.[39]

New York Mets (1975–77)[edit]

With the Mets in 1975, Torre became the third player in major league history, and first in the National League, to hit into four double plays in one game.[40] Felix Millán singled in all four of his at-bats hitting ahead of Torre, and at a post-game press conference, Torre joked about his own performance by saying "I'd like to thank Felix Millan for making this possible." When Torre's batting average fell to .247 in 1975, it appeared his best years might be behind him. However, his average rebounded 59 points in 1976, and he finished the year with a .306 batting average.[41] In May 1977, the Mets fired manager Joe Frazier and named Torre as their player-manager.[42] Because he believed he could not do the job properly while still playing, he decided to retire at age 37. He did serve 18 days as a player-manager (only having 2 at-bats), becoming the second of three players in the 1970s to take on both roles (Frank Robinson, in the two previous seasons with the Cleveland Indians, and Don Kessinger, in 1979 with the Chicago White Sox, were the others).[43]

Career statistics[edit]

In an 18-year major league career, Torre played in 2,209 games, accumulating 2,342 hits in 7,874 at bats for a .297 career batting average along with 252 home runs, 1,185 runs batted in and an on-base percentage of .365.[1] He retired with a .990 fielding percentage in 903 games as a catcher, a .993 fielding percentage in 787 games as a first baseman and a .951 fielding percentage in 515 games as a third baseman.[1] During his career, Torre hit over .300 five times, had over 100 runs batted in five seasons and hit over 20 home runs six times. A nine-time All-Star, he was the recipient of one Most Valuable Player Award and claimed one batting championship along with one RBI crown. Torre was also a Gold Glove Award winner and led National League catchers twice in fielding percentage.[1] Torre never reached the post-season during his playing career.

Post-playing days[edit]

New York Mets manager (1977–81)[edit]

Torre managed the Mets from 1977 to 1981 season, but failed to improve the team's record. After five years without a winning season, he was fired at the end of the strike-shortened 1981 season.[44]

Atlanta Braves manager (1982–84)[edit]

Torre in 1982

In 1982, Torre replaced Bobby Cox as the manager of the Atlanta Braves, and immediately guided them to a Major League-record 13 straight wins to open the season. Atlanta subsequently went on to finish 89–73 and capture the NL Western Division title, its first playoff appearance since the 1969 National League Championship Series. In Game 1 of the 1982 National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Braves jumped to a 1–0 lead before the game was rain delayed after four innings and eventually canceled just three outs short of an official game. St. Louis won the rematch and went on to sweep the series.

The Braves slipped to second place in 1983, but their 88–74 record was just one game off the previous season, and marked the first consecutive winning seasons for the organization since moving from Milwaukee in 1966. In 1984, Atlanta slipped to 80–82 the following season but, again finished runner-up in the division (tied with Houston Astros). He was fired after the 1984 season.

Broadcast booth (1985–90)[edit]

From 1985 to 1990, Torre worked as a television color commentator for the California Angels.[45] Torre also worked as a color commentator for NBC's Game of the Week[46] telecasts alongside Jay Randolph. While working as a guest analyst for ESPN during the 1989 World Series, Torre was on hand for the Loma Prieta earthquake (October 17, 1989).

St. Louis Cardinals manager (1990–95)[edit]

In 1990, Torre replaced the popular Whitey Herzog as Cardinals manager and posted a 351–354 record. Though the Cardinals were unable to reach the playoffs during Torre's tenure, they had winning records in each of the three full seasons he spent with the club (excluding the strike-shortened 1994). Despite a last place prediction from many commentators, the Cardinals finished in second place and won 84 games in 1991, Torre's first full season at the helm. His best record was 87–75 in 1993. Torre was fired in June 1995 for his poor record that year as part of a rebuilding project while Anheuser-Busch prepared to sell the team.

New York Yankees manager (1996–2007)[edit]

Torre served as the Yankees manager under owner George Steinbrenner, who was famous for frequently firing his team's managers. Torre lasted 12 full seasons, managing 1,942 regular season games (with a won-loss record of 1173–767). and took the team to the post-season playoffs every one of his twelve seasons with the club, winning six American League pennants and four World Series. This was by far the longest tenure for a Yankees manager in the Steinbrenner era. Torre's was the second-longest managerial tenure in the club's history: only Joe McCarthy lasted longer.[47]

1996–2005[edit]

Torre after visiting the mound during a 2005 game

Torre got off to a rough start with the Yankees. The New York City press (and fans) thought his hiring was a colossal mistake and greeted him with headlines such as "Clueless Joe."[48]

However, it was with the Yankees that he enjoyed the greatest success of his managerial career, leading them to the playoffs in each of his 12 seasons (1996–2007) with the club. He would eventually become a fan favorite. In 1996, he was named Manager of the Year. Torre, building on the Yankees' Wild Card berth in 1995, made his first-ever trip to the "Fall Classic," leading the Yankees to their first World Series since 1981. After the Yankees defeated the Atlanta Braves, Steinbrenner tore up Torre's contract and gave him a new, more lucrative and longer contract as a reward.

After losing to the Cleveland Indians in the AL playoffs in 1997, the team won three straight World Series titles from 1998 to 2000, and additional American League pennants in 2001 and 2003.

The 1998 season was Torre's most successful. Despite a slow start that included losing four of the first five games of the season, the Yankees set a then-American League record of 114 regular season wins, including David Wells's perfect game on May 17. During the playoffs, the Yankees easily bested the Texas Rangers, fought off the Cleveland Indians for the AL pennant, and swept the San Diego Padres in the World Series. Torre won Manager of the Year honors, and the 1998 team is now widely regarded as one of the greatest baseball teams, along with the Yankee teams of 1927, 1939 and 1961, the 19721974 Oakland Athletics, and the 1975–1976 Cincinnati Reds. When ESPN launched its Who's#1? series on June 15, 2004, the 1998 Yankees topped the network's list of best teams over the years 1979 to 2003.

In 2004, Torre suffered his greatest setback, marking the end of the Yankees' dominance. After building a 3–0 lead in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, his team would go on to suffer one of the worst collapses in baseball history and lose the next four games and the ALCS. The Red Sox would go on to win the 2004 World Series.

2006–2007[edit]

Despite pitching issues and injuries the Yankees won another AL East title in 2006.

In 2007, Torre got his 2000th win and became the first major league employee to win 2000 games as manager and have 2,000 hits. Torre later notched his 2,010th managerial win, overtaking Leo Durocher for 9th place on the MLB all-time managerial wins list. He also passed Casey Stengel on the Yankees all time managerial wins list in 2007 and recorded his 1,150th victory with the Yankees. Torre led the Yankees to their 13th consecutive postseason appearance.

Torre with Don Mattingly in 2007

In the 2007 post-season after the Yankees lost two games to the Cleveland Indians in the Division Series, George Steinbrenner said in an interview that Torre's contract would not be renewed if the Yankees did not defeat the Indians. The Yankees saved their season, and potentially Torre's job, for one day, as they won Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.[49] Following the Yankees' elimination the following night, earning them another first-round exit, Torre's fate remained uncertain. That night, as Torre went out to make what would be his last pitching change with the team, the fans in Yankee Stadium gave Torre a standing ovation and chanted his name.

After the season the Yankees offered Torre a one-year contract with a $5,000,000 base pay and $1,000,000 bonuses, to be paid for each of three benchmarks the team reached: winning the American League Divisional Series; winning the American League Championship Series; and winning the World Series. Also, if the Yankees made it to the World Series, Torre would pick up an option for a new contract for the following year. The contract, despite the pay cut, would still have kept Torre as the highest-paid manager in the game. However, it was portrayed in the New York media as an insult. Torre turned down the offer, ending his era with the Yankees.[50] On October 19, 2007, Torre held a news conference to explain his decision. After first thanking owner George Steinbrenner, he said: "I just felt the contract offer and the terms of the contract were probably the thing I had the toughest time with."

On February 3, 2009, Torre released a book about his experiences with the Yankees, called The Yankee Years, co-authored by Tom Verducci.

Torre returned to Yankee Stadium for the first time since vacating the Yankees managerial job on September 20, 2010, to pay respect to George Steinbrenner on the night of the previous owner's monument being unveiled in Monument Park.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager (2008–10)[edit]

Torre as the Dodgers' manager, April 6, 2008

On November 1, 2007, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that Torre would be their manager beginning with the 2008 season, filling the void left when Grady Little resigned his post two days before. This marked the return of Torre to the National League, the only league he had played or managed in prior to becoming the Yankees skipper. According to ESPN, his contract was valued at $13 million over 3 years.[51]

Torre brought two members of his 2007 Yankees coaching staff with him. Don Mattingly, who had served as Torre's bench coach, was tabbed as the hitting coach, and third base coach Larry Bowa was brought in to fill the same position with the Dodgers. In January 2008, Mattingly was moved to the role of special assignment coach for the 2008 season due to family concerns. He was replaced as hitting coach by Mike Easler.[52] In addition, Torre brought in Bob Schaefer to be bench coach, and retained first base coach Mariano Duncan and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt from Little's staff. Ken Howell was promoted from Triple-A pitching coach to bullpen coach, completing his staff.[53] Torre as a young boy lived in Brooklyn when the Dodgers played there, but admitted to being a New York Giants fan then, adding another keynote in the longstanding rivalry between the two clubs.

On March 31, 2008, Joe Torre made his managerial debut with the Dodgers in a 5–0 victory. Coincidentally, he would be managing several former Red Sox players, such as Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe, and Nomar Garciaparra. On September 25, 2008, the Dodgers clinched the NL West title, giving Torre his 13th consecutive postseason appearance. October 4, 2008 saw Torre managing the Dodgers to a 3–0 victory over the Chicago Cubs in the National League Division Series, earning the Dodgers their first post season series victory since their championship season of 1988.[54] Torre's Dodgers were beaten in the NLCS four games to one by the Phillies (who went on to win the World Series) with a 5–1 loss on October 15.

In 2009 the Dodgers had the National League's best record (95–67), clinching the top seed. The Dodgers faced Torre's old club, the St. Louis Cardinals, in the National League Division Series, sweeping them three games to nothing. However, they went on to lose to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS in five games, ending their season once again with a loss to the Phillies. (The Phillies, however, lost to his former team, the Yankees, in the 2009 World Series.)

During the 2010 season, Torre and his Dodgers played games against both the Yankees and the Red Sox. The Dodgers managed to only go 1–5 against the two teams. It was the first time ever he faced the Yankees and the first time he faced the Sox since leaving the Yankees.[55]

On September 17, 2010, Torre announced he would step down as Dodgers manager after the 2010 season, with Don Mattingly being Torre's replacement for the 2011 campaign.[56]

On October 3, 2010, the Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3–1 at Dodger Stadium for Torre's 2,326th career win. The victory was his last one with the Dodgers, since he stepped down as the team's manager at the conclusion of the game.[57]

Commissioner's office (2011–present)[edit]

On February 26, 2011, Commissioner Bud Selig appointed Joe Torre as the new Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball.[58]

Torre drew criticism when, during the 10th year anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 attacks, MLB denied the New York Mets the right to wear tribute caps to First Responders, like they did in the month following the attacks.[59][60]

Torre briefly resigned from his position with Major League Baseball in January 2012 amid speculation that he was interested in joining one of the groups seeking to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.[61] The following March, he returned to his position with MLB after his group failed to buy the Dodgers.[62]

In 2011, Torre made his first appearance at the New York Yankees' Old Timer's Day.[63] He also appeared in 2012.

Torre was the manager of the USA team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.[64] On September 22, 2013, he attended a Yankees pregame tribute to Mariano Rivera at Yankee Stadium.

Honors and awards[edit]

Torre at Dodger Stadium, May 2010

In 2007, Torre was the first recipient of the Chuck Tanner Major League Baseball Manager of the Year Award.

In September 2009, Torre was named Sporting News Manager of the Decade.[65]

In December 2009, Sports Illustrated named Torre as the Best Manager of the Decade. Sports Illustrated also selected Torre as number 3 on its list of the Top 10 Coaches/Managers of the Decade in U.S. professional and college sports.[citation needed]

Torre was unanimously elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the 16-member Veterans Committee on December 9, 2013. He was inducted on July 27, 2014.[66]

The New York Yankees retired Torre's #6 in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on August 23, 2014.[67]

Film and television appearances[edit]

He appeared as himself in the broadcast booth in the 1990 film Taking Care of Business, which showed a fictional World Series between the Angels and the Chicago Cubs.

In the 1997 TV movie Joe Torre: Curveballs Along the Way, Torre was played by Paul Sorvino.

Torre also was featured as the "Voice of the Yankees' Manager" in the 2006 animated feature Everyone's Hero.[68] Torre's character manages a team that includes a fictional Babe Ruth.

Torre appeared with Willie Randolph in a set of Subway commercials, highlighting the pun of Subway and the Subway Series which Torre, then as Yankees manager, took part with Randolph, then as Mets manager.

During the 2008 season, Torre appeared in TV ads for State Farm Insurance, poking fun at both himself and Hollywood stereotypes.[69][70]

On June 15, 2009, Torre was a guest on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien[71] and has made appearances on Sesame Street, Castle[72] and Gary Unmarried. Torre also appeared as himself in the 2002 Mafia comedy Analyze That starring Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal.[73]

On February 8, 2010, Joe Torre was a walk-in on the Castle episode "Suicide Squeeze" (season 2, episode 15)

Personal[edit]

Joseph Torre is of Italian descent and was born in Brooklyn, New York. He has one son, Michael, by his first wife, Jackie, whom he married in 1963. He has two daughters, Lauren and Cristina, by his second wife, Dani, whom he married in 1968. Both of these marriages ended in divorce. On August 23, 1987, he married Alice (Ali) Wolterman, his third wife. They have a daughter, Andrea.

His older brother Frank Torre was also a Major League Baseball player. He had another brother, Rocco, a New York Police Department officer who died in 1996. His older sister, Marguerite is a Roman Catholic nun and teacher, and through 2007 was the principal of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Ozone Park Queens. He is also a mentor to and still remains very close friends to former New York Mets all star Lee Mazzilli.

Torre was treated for prostate cancer[74] in 1999.

Torre is a thoroughbred horse racing enthusiast. He is a part owner of Game on Dude, one of the top older handicap horses in the country. He also was a part-owner of Sis City, winner of the 2005 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland Race Course. She was the dominant three-year-old filly that year until finishing fourth in the May 6 Kentucky Oaks. However, a few weeks later on June 26, Wild Desert, in which Torre is also a partner, won the $1.0 million Queen's Plate, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. Wild Desert is also partially owned by Keith Jones, an NHL player. A horse named Torre and Zim, was named after Torre and his former bench coach Don Zimmer, as both love horse racing.

On December 14, 2005, Torre carried the Olympic Flame in Florence, Italy, as part of the torch relay of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, running it 405 meters, and ending up at the Ponte Vecchio.

In 1997, Torre's autobiography, Chasing the Dream, was released. Later, he authored an advice book, titled Joe Torre's Ground Rules for Winners.[75] His third book, The Yankee Years, was released in February 2009. The book, co-authored by Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci, details Torre's tenure as manager of the New York Yankees.[76]

Joe Torre Foundation[edit]

Torre and his wife Ali created the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation, inspired by Torre's experiences growing up as a witness to domestic violence in his home in Brooklyn. The foundation operates approximately a dozen domestic violence resource centers called Margaret's Place, named after Torre's mother, in New York City and Westchester County, New York.

In October 2007, the Joe Torre Foundation partnered with Union City, New Jersey's Board of Education and the North Hudson Community Action Corporation (NHCAC) to create New Jersey's first Margaret's Place, at Union City's Jose Marti Middle School. Aspects of Union City's Margaret's Place will include a peer counseling program and an anti-violence campaign within the school, in order to encourage children to discuss family problems more freely, and training for teachers and counselors.[77] The haven, which is housed in its own secure room at the school, was funded by a $325,000 grant from Verizon and is administered by health care professionals from North Hudson Community Action Corp.[78]

Torre is also a supporter of other domestic violence programs. In September 2008, he recorded a public service announcement[79] and personal voice message in support of the RESPECT! Campaign against domestic violence.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Joe Torre minor league statistics". Baseball Reference. Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
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  41. ^ Pickard, Chuck (February 1977). "Biggest Batting Gainers and Losers in '76". Baseball Digest (Books.Google.com). Retrieved January 9, 2011. 
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  46. ^ 1989 05 13 NBC GOW Milwaukee Brewers at Oakland A's on YouTube
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External links[edit]