Last year, the Tablet, the newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., listed the top all-time baseball players from Catholic high schools in the diocese.
Top star of the list was Joe Torre, a graduate of St. Francis Prep High School in Fresh Meadow, N.Y. He’s also known in New York as the brother of Ursuline Sister Marguerite Torre, who spent the final 27 years of her ministry as the principal of Nativity BVM School in Ozone Park, N.Y. There were five children in the Torre household, including another Major Leaguer, Frank Torre.
Joe Torre was a nine-time All-Star and the 1971 National League Most Valuable Player who totaled 2,342 hits in 18 big league seasons. He spent 29 seasons as a manager, winning four World Series titles with the Yankees. He may have won more with the St. Louis Cardinals, but during his tenure as manager the Cards always were a couple players short of competing for the top spot in the standings.
Traded to St. Louis in 1969 for future Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, the Cardinals installed Torre at first base, and he responded with 18 homers, 101 RBI and a .289 average. After splitting time between catcher and third base in 1970 — and hitting 21 home runs to go with 100 RBI and a .325 batting average — Torre became a full-time third baseman in 1971, leading the National League with 230 hits with a .363 batting average, 24 home runs and 137 RBI. He was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. (Let’s hope Cards’ current third baseman Nolan Arenado matches or exceeds those stats.)
While Torre’s baseball stats are impressive, even more so is what he and his wife, Ali, have done to support victims of domestic abuse.
Growing up, Torre’s abusive father beat the mother of his children, before moving out when the future baseball Hall of Famer was 11. On the website of the Safe at Home Foundation, Torre wrote that “growing up in a home where there was domestic violence was very difficult and left lasting scars. 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. As I gained the understanding and knowledge that too many children live in fear, are unaware of how to ask for help, and suffer the same debilitating fear that I and my family had, my wife, Ali, and I founded the Safe At Home Foundation in 2002.”
Safe At Home provides healing services to youth who have been traumatized by domestic violence, child abuse, teen dating abuse, and sexual assault. It empowers them to live healthy lives free of violence. Its mission is to educate to end the cycle of domestic violence and save lives.
The foundation’s counselors help children to strengthen their resilience, know that they are not alone, and understand that the violence is not their fault. A school-based program, Margaret’s Place, has a layered approach that raises youth consciousness about violence and its effects on individuals and communities.
In St. Louis, Saint Martha’s Hall is a Catholic Charities federated agency that provides a shelter care program for abused women and their children. Its mission is to help abused women and their children break the cycle of violence in their lives. Saint Martha’s Hall is guided by the social justice teachings of Jesus Christ.
Services include crisis intervention; support groups; individual support; advocacy; information and referral; and community education, including presentations, brochures and information packets given upon request.
The Safe at Home Foundation, joetorre.org, and Saint Martha’s Hall, saintmarthas.org, are home runs for the community. Thanks go to the Torres and Catholic Charities for their efforts. Please lend them your support and help prevent anyone from undergoing what Torre and his family endured.
Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville.