A common phrase on social medias is TBT (Throw Back Thursday), that's when people put up photos of things or themselves from the past, as a way of reminiscing. The Milwaukee Braves Historical Association had a "live" version of that Thursday (5/8/14) when they brought to town, and honored former Milwaukee Brave Joe Torre, and Howie Bedell at their Testimonial Dinner.
The day started with the presentation and addition of Torre's Bronze Plaque to the Milwaukee Braves Honor Roll at Miller Park. It was added to the other 12 Braves who have been honored before him, one of which is his older brother Frank.
The ceremony was emceed by Milwaukee Brewer P.A. Announcer Robb Edwards. While dignitaries such as Brewers Owner Mark Antinasio and radio voice for the Brewers Bob Uecker also spoke. Finally Joe Torre, the 9 time All-Star, 1971 N.L. MVP, 4 time World Series Champion as manager of the New York Yankees, 2 time Manager of the Year, and now the Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball who will be inducted into Cooperstown in July, stepped to the lectern...
With that type of resume, I didn't know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. Torre gave one of the best acceptance speech I've ever heard. He was humble, and gave off a vibe, like he was talking to his closest friends, it was great. After he was done, he gave us, the media all the time in the world opening up our time with "whatever you guys want, it's your church..." we did, and he graciously answered every question with a heartfelt and complete answer.
The dedication dinner was held a few hours later at the Milwaukee Athletic Club, close to 300 Milwaukee Brave fans were in attendance to meet former Milwaukee Braves Joe Torre and Howie Bedell.
Bedell and Torre played together with the Braves in 1962 where Bedell was the Opening Day left fielder. Prior to his time in Milwaukee, Bedell tied the longest batting streak in the American Association when he hit safely in 43 straight games. In 1968 Bedell was the player who broke up Don Drysdales scoreless innings at 58 2/3 when he hit a sac fly in the top of the Fifth as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies (it was his only RBI that season). After his playing days Bedell continued his career in baseball with the Phillies, Royals, Mariners and Reds.
The evening affair was a solid mixture of laughs as well as recogniton. Bob Barry was the emcee and kept the evening moving along. Howie Bedell was first to speak and talked about his time with the Braves, as well as his career after his playing days. Long time MLB Umpire Bruce Froemming opened his part of the program asking for a round of "boos" so he would feel at home, he then proceeded to both roast and praise the man of the hour Joe Torre.
Torre spoke next, and let me tell you, I could have listened to him talk all night. He talked about his life in baseball, threw jabs at both Bruce Froemming, and Bob Uecker, as well as opened up the floor to Q & A from the fans which was a true gem (who knew Joe and his wife watched the Oscars at Frank Sinatra's house one year?). One could tell he truly wanted to be there. He made everyone feel like he was their uncle, and the two of you were sitting on the porch just "chewing the fat."
Before everything was said and done, "Mr. Baseball," Bob Uecker was summoned to the lectern for an impromptu roast where he threw out zingers to just about everyone, including himself...classic Bob, never a loss for words.
All an all, it was a wonderful evening, one, I along with everyone else in attendance will not soon forget. Kudos to Bob Buege and his team at the Milwaukee Braves Historical Society for putting together a great evening.
If you are a fan of the Milwaukee Braves and want to be part of their next dinner, which may be slated for this October go to www.57Braves.com as well as subscribe to their publication "The Tepee."