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Sports Heroes Who Served: Baseball Legend Served During the Cuban Missile Crisis

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Sports Heroes Who Served is a series that highlights the accomplishments of athletes who served in the U.S. military.

As sports legends go, there is a case to be made that Joe Torre is the personification of greatness. During his 50-year baseball career — 17 years as a player and 33 years as a manager — Torre is the only major leaguer to achieve both 2,000-plus hits as a player and 2,000-plus wins as a manager. 

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Baseball Talk
Joe Torre talks to reporters during the Major League Baseball winter meeting in Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 8, 2015.
Photo By: Courtesy of Joe Torre
VIRIN: 151208-O-ZZ999-001C

Joseph "Joe" Paul Torre ranks fifth all-time in Major League Baseball history with 2,326 wins as a manager and 2,342 hits in 2,209 games during his playing career with the Milwaukee Braves (1960 to 1965), the Atlanta Braves (1966 to 1968), the St. Louis Cardinals (1969 to 1974) and the New York Mets (1975 to 1977).

He ultimately transitioned from player to manager with the New York Mets (1977 to 1981), the Atlanta Braves (1982 to 1984), the St. Louis Cardinals (1990 to 1995), the New York Yankees (1996 to 2007) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2008 to 2010).

On the field, he played first and third bases and was also a catcher and is a nine-time All-Star (1963 to 1967 and 1970 to 1973). 

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Joe Torre
Joe Torre is seen in August 1982 when he served as manager of the Atlanta Braves.
Photo By: Courtesy of Joe Torre
VIRIN: 821208-O-ZZ999-001

As a manager for the Yankees, his team won four World Series: 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.

Although baseball defines him in the eyes of sports fans, Torre also served in the military. On Nov. 5, 2015, he spoke about his military experiences with John Raughter, a former Marine who wrote about him for the "The American Legion Magazine:"

"I was in the Air National Guard. It was a very tense time; I was in basic training during the Cuban crisis in 1962," he said. "I had already been in the big leagues for two years, and we were lying in bed listening to those planes take off from Kelly Air Force Base [Texas]. It was, wow. 

"And, of course, needless to say, my drill instructors were saying I'd be playing in Havana next year," he continued. "They always liked to stick a knife in you. It was a scary time. I think we all know that. Of course, we didn't know how scary it was until you got the news accounts after the fact. We were certainly alert to the fact that we were close to something that wasn't good."

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Yankees Manager
Yankees Manager Joe Torre visits the mound during a game in May 2005.
Photo By: Courtesy of Joe Torre
VIRIN: 051030-O-ZZ999-001H
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Dodgers Manager
Dodgers Manager Joe Torre is at a game April 6, 2008.
Photo By: Courtesy of Joe Torre
VIRIN: 080406-O-ZZ999-001X

In 2002 Torre and his wife, Alice, founded the Safe At Home Foundation, a nonprofit, that the website says "provides healing services to youth who have been traumatized by exposure to violence including domestic violence, child abuse, teen dating abuse and sexual assault in order to empower them to live healthy lives free of violence. Our mission is to educate to end the cycle of domestic violence and save lives."

Torre said he was motivated to create the foundation because he experienced domestic violence as a child growing up in Brooklyn, New York.

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Baseball Wave
Yankees Manager Joe Torre (left), President George W. Bush (center) and Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly are on the field at Yankee Stadium in New York City, Oct. 30, 2001.
Photo By: Eric Draper, National Archives
VIRIN: 011030-O-ZZ999-001C

"Growing up in a home where there was domestic violence was very difficult and left lasting scars," he said. "Although I didn't realize it then, I used to feel like the abuse was my fault. I felt helpless and alone. For many years, I felt ashamed and worthless. As an adult, I began to speak openly about my childhood experience with domestic violence."

Torre was the younger brother of Frank Torre, who played for the Milwaukee Braves from 1956 to 1960 and the Philadelphia Phillies from 1962 to 1963. Frank died in 2014 at age 82. 

Joe Torre is 80.

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Photo By: DOD
VIRIN: 200706-D-ZZ999-903

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