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Torre addresses domestic violence

Torre addresses domestic violence

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BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. -- Joe Torre has managed four Yankees championships, attended nine All-Star Games as a player and been named the National League MVP as a player.

But the achievement he's proudest of is simply this: His 9-year-old daughter, Andrea Rae, knows no safer place than her own home.

Torre, who endured and witnessed domestic abuse as a youth, spoke at length about the topic Monday at Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., the site of the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation 2005 Golf Classic.

"[My wife Ali and I] just decided that this is an issue that needed addressing," Torre said. "It's been far too long, it's been too quiet for too long. Our gear is toward children, because if you're going to end the cycle of domestic violence and save lives, that's where you have to start."

The Golf Classic silent auction raised more than $500,000 in 2004. Celebrities attending included former president Bill Clinton, actor Billy Crystal and "Today Show" host Matt Lauer. There were also several current and former Yankees involved, including Yogi Berra, David Cone, Willie Randolph, Mel Stottlemyre, Joe Girardi and a host of others.

"It's a good group of people, and I feel so good that I call up and ask and they come," Torre said.

Torre was grouped with Donald Trump, whose golf game Torre praised; Clinton, who left the Yankees skipper admittedly star-struck; Crystal, who Torre said would soon find out the manager wasn't very good, and the chairman of the golf tournament, Robert Devlin.

Torre downplays his role in attracting big names to the event and monetary contributions to the Foundation, but it didn't go unnoticed by those in attendance.

"To talk about your father and your home life and your mother, it's really taboo," Cone said. "And it has been taboo -- especially for men. It shows what a leader he is for him to come out and say, 'This happened, this is what I'm going to do about it: First, I'm going to acknowledge it, and secondly, I'm going to help people and create a foundation.'

"To me, it's another in a long list of very impressive accomplishments by a true New Yorker," Cone added. "If Joe Torre asked me to go anywhere, I'd go there in a minute, but moreso today because of what he does with this cause."

Torre's father physically abused Torre's mother, Margaret, and emotionally abused Torre himself. It created a tense home atmosphere that Torre sought to avoid.

"My dad was a policeman and he worked nights," Torre said. "He'd leave the house anywhere from 3:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon, and if I came home from school and saw his car in front of the house, I wouldn't go home. I'd go to a friend's house until he left. ... I'd never have friends over, because I didn't know what was going to happen."

Torre first isolated the origins of a lifelong battle with low self-esteem in 1995, when Ali took him to Life Success, a self-help seminar, while the couple was in Cincinnati.

"Just standing up in front of a group of strangers and expressing how you felt inside, I wound up tracing most of these emotions back to my childhood and realizing how many scars I was carrying with me from childhood," Torre said.

In time, Joe and Ali moved to create the foundation -- largely in memory of his mother, Margaret.

"I know if she was here now, there's no way she'd allow this to happen -- she was very private," Torre said. "It was something we never talked about. I think a big part of my carrying those scars was the fact that it was never talked about."

Torre has been shaped by the abuse he endured, once measuring his success solely by his exploits on the field, but now coming to realize that there's more to him than baseball. It colors his managerial style, preventing him from overreacting to highs and lows because he knows that nobody can do great things all of the time.

It's now something that he hopes he can help others cope with -- for everyone's sake.

"A lot of this abuse comes from the fact that men drink or maybe possibly use drugs, but my dad was just a bully," Torre said. "He didn't have respect for my mom. He felt she was there for one reason and that was to take care of his needs.

"There's a whole lot more to life when you realize that you have to be sensitive to each other."

The Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation's "Mission for Margaret," named after Torre's mother, is to develop educational programs to end the cycle of domestic violence and save lives. It has championed several outreach efforts that aim to help students, parents and faculty cope with domestic violence and related issues, most notably "Margaret's Place."

"Margaret's Place" is an education program established in two New York City public schools thus far, that teaches children about abuse and provides them a safe environment to talk about it. Three more sites are slated for addition with the beginning of the academic year in September.

The Foundation is also working with Major League Baseball to bring "Strike Out Domestic Violence Day" to every ballpark in the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

For more information about the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation, visit http://www.joetorre.org.

Ben Couch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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