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December 11, 2013

Torre selection will be boon for C'town

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The Daily Star

---- — The cheering you might have heard Monday emanating from the Baseball Hall of Fame — possibly drowned out by that of the merchants of Cooperstown and surrounding environs — probably hasn’t completely died down yet.

And with good reason.

Baseball’s 16-member Expansion Era Veterans Committee gave us a lot of reasons to cheer when it announced that former managers Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox would be enshrined in the Hall of Fame on July 27.

We give the Hall all the credit in the world for what it tried to accomplish this summer when there were no live inductees to give speeches to those few assembled for the ceremonies. President Jeff Idelson and his colleagues were creative, optimistic and put the best face on a terribly difficult situation.

But this is better. Much better.

Better make your reservations now, because it’s going to be awfully crowded in Cooperstown this July.

Torre, who managed the New York Yankees to four world championships and six American League pennants during his tenure from 1996 to 2007, will obviously be the biggest draw among the three.

The former major league catcher was an excellent player and an even better manager.

Whether it was dealing with volatile Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, nursing along the careers of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera or leading his players in cheers for their arch rivals in Fenway Park as the Red Sox received their rings for winning the 2004 World Series, Torre was the epitome of class.

But let’s not forget about the number of people who will be traveling from St. Louis and perhaps Oakland to welcome LaRussa into the Hall of Fame. Only Connie Mack and John McGraw have won more games as a manager than LaRussa’s 2,728. LaRussa captured three World Series titles, one with the Oakland A’s, and the other two with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Cox won an astounding 14 consecutive division titles with the Atlanta Braves, five National League pennants and one World Series. He is very likely to be joined by two of his former players.

“Hopefully, two guys who helped me get to the Hall of Fame, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, will be voted in by the baseball writers in January and be able to join me in Cooperstown next July,” said Cox on Monday.

Frank Thomas, who spent most of his home run-hitting career with the Chicago White Sox, is also a likely inductee, and with popular former sportscaster Joe Garagiola receiving the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award on July 26, Cooperstown is in for a well-deserved and well-needed huge Induction Weekend.