Joe Torre, whose patient style and calming influence helped guide the New York Yankees to a record 125 wins and their 24th World Series championship, won The Associated Press manager of the year award Tuesday.
Torre, who won his second Series in three years with New York, received 85 votes from a national panel of writers and broadcasters. San Diego's Bruce Bochy finished second with 48 ½ votes, followed by the Cubs' Jim Riggleman (20 ½), Houston's Larry Dierker (10) and Boston's Jimy Williams (8).
"It's nice to get recognition," said Torre, who won the AP NL manager of the year award in 1982 while with Atlanta. Since 1984, only one award has been given for both leagues.
"During the season we went through, you have one purpose in mind -- to win the World Series," Torre said. "All of a sudden, the awards come along and it's like a cherry on top of a great season. I was just along for the ride."
But Torre did more than just ride his players to an AL-record 114 wins during the regular season and an 11-2 postseason mark, capped by a sweep of the San Diego Padres in the World Series.
In the media maelstrom of New York and with a meddlesome owner like George Steinbrenner, Torre didn't flinch when the team started 1-4. He exhibited remarkable patience and kept his team focused on each game even though the Yankees ran away from the rest of the American League by Memorial Day.
"When you get to the All-Star break with 61 wins, you realize this has a chance to be a pretty damn good team," Torre said. "I was cautious because it's hard to hold the edge that long. It's a manager's job to always be concerned and cautious and never look too far forward."
"I don't care how good you are, to win as many games as we won is an incredible accomplishment."
Torre played a major role in that feat by juggling his deep lineup, letting players know their roles, and even calling a team meeting to admnish his team after a particularly lethargic performance at Tampa Bay in September.
Torre said his job was little more than writing out a lineup card, making pitching changes and patting guys on the back every once in a while. But his players know that baseball's best team didn't operate on autopilot.
"For the most part, he lets us play," Bernie Williams said during the World Series. "He has a very good idea of what everyone in the room can do and he doesn't expect anything less from us. He doesn't expect anything more from us than to play to our capabilities, and if we're not, he's going to let us hear about it."
Because of Torre's leadership and an extremely talented team, the Yankees won more games -- regular and postseason -- than any other team in history. Torre said winning more games than any other Yankees team was the ultimate achievement.
As for their rank in history, Torre said he hasn't seen a better team in his nearly 40 years in baseball.
"You look at the Oakland A's clubs that won a few world championships in a row and the Cincinnati club in '76 that was always a standard for me, I think we have better pitching than they have," he said. "We have to take a backseat to no one in my lifetime."
All of the top five vote-getters led their teams into the playoffs. Bochy won his second division title in four years as a manager, winning a team-record 98 games and leading the Padres to their first World Series in 14 years.
Riggleman's Cubs earned the NL wild-card berth and made the playoffs for the first time since 1989. Dierker, in his second year, won his second NL Central title for the Astros. Williams, in his second year in Boston, earned the AL wild-card berth.
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved