September 17, 2014

Dodgers’ Joe Torre Speaks About Safe At Home Foundation

Today I had the opportunity to hear Joe Torre speak at the Milken Institute about the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and developing educational programs aimed at ending the cycle of domestic violence and saving lives.

From the Foundation’s Web site:

Joe Torre, former professional baseball player and manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, grew up the youngest of five children in Brooklyn, New York. His father was a New York City police detective and revered in his community. He was the cop that made everyone feel safe. Everyone except his own family.

 Joe, Sr. ruled his home with an iron fist. He was a physically abusive husband and an emotionally abusive father. The violence that had besieged the Torre household for so many years was a well-kept family secret and stayed a family secret for generations. However, in December of 1995, Ali and Joe Torre attended a seminar called Life Success.  As a result of Joe’s participation in that seminar, he began to talk openly of his childhood experience with domestic violence. He went public with his family secret in his autobiography, Chasing the Dream: My Lifelong Journey to the World Series.

Being used to speaking to Joe strictly about topics related to the Dodgers’ lineup and not being that familiar with Safe at Home, I was really touched to hear Joe open up about the substantial impact that domestic violence has had on him in his lifetime.  As a result of the abuse he saw and went through as a child, Joe and his well-spoken wife Ali launched the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation in 2002.  The cornerstone of the Foundation is a series of safe rooms in middle and high schools.  These rooms, called Margaret’s Place in memory of Joe’s mother, are locations where kids can go for support and realize they’re not alone in their struggles.  Staffed by professional counselors  trained in domestic violence intervention and prevention, Margaret’s Place locations offer a comprehensive mix of counseling, education and peer support in a supportive and understanding environment.

Joe and Ali have already launched 11 Margaret’s Place locations in the New York tri-state area, and Joe mentioned today that the Foundation hopes to have their first two West Coast locations up and running in the greater Los Angeles area by this fall.

I have to say that this was a very moving afternoon.  Joe and Ali Torre clearly are clearly trying to make a difference and break the cycle of domestic violence that so often continues in families from generation to generation.  Oh, and in a nice surprise, former Dodger Todd Zeile was in the audience supporting his friend and former manager (from their days with the St. Louis Cardinals).

As has been widely reported this week, the first big public event for the Safe At Home Foundation will be the “Koufax & Torre…Safe At Home” event on Saturday, February 27, 2010 at the NOKIA Theatre.  Needless to say, this should be a fantastic opportunity to not only hear some great baseball stories from two legends, but also learn more about Joe’s passion for this cause.  Ticket prices range from $25.00 to $200.00 and are available at Ticketmaster.

Of course, what event with Joe Torre wouldn’t be complete without a little baseball talk, right?  Joe had some very funny and insightful comments and anecdotes on everything from Manny Ramirez  to pitch counts in the major leagues.  I’ll share some of these very soon, but will leave you with one tonight on Boston Red Sox fans:

“The people of Boston are very nice.  But something happens to them when they go through those turnstiles.”  Joe then went on to share two anecdotes: on one occasion while he was managing the Yankees, he was in an elevator with a Boston fan.  The fan told him that if he had the choice between watching the Red Sox beat the Yankees or having the U.S. capture Saddam Hussein, he would take the Yankees.  In another instance, Joe was in church with his daughter and Joe was watching her have fun by lighting a series of candles.  A Boston fan came up to Joe and told him that if one of those candles was for the Yankees then he was going to blow it out.

Ahh, Boston fans…you’ve got to love their passion!

Congratulations once again to Joe and Ali Torre for their very public dedication to ending the cycle of domestic violence and for bringing the Safe At Home Foundation to the West Coast.  I’m sure we’re going to be hearing a lot more about this organization in the months and years ahead thanks to their ongoing commitment to the cause.