Joe Torre nervous, excited for his Hall of Fame speech, induction

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - There's no clock in baseball, but the six men getting inducted into the Hall of Fame today have been asked to keep their speeches under 10 minutes.

Joe Torre is just hoping he can get through it without tearing up too much.

"I'm nervous as a cat," Torre said Saturday on the eve of his induction along with fellow managers Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox and players Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas.

"People tell me how they look at me in the dugout and it looks like I'm not emotional," Torre said. "But I'm going to tell you something: It's been wonderful. You look around and you see who's around you. It's just been a great experience. It's something they can't take away from you once it happens. It's unlike any experience I've ever had."

Torre said he is expecting about 300 friends and family at the ceremony (and a private party tomorrow night). Among his attendees will be comedian Billy Crystal, former Giants and Jets coach Bill Parcells and former Indiana University coach Bobby Knight, who is also friends with La Russa.

Plus, Torre said, his two sisters, his son, one of his daughters, and his stepdaughter who came with her three children from Dubai. And his in-laws.

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A lot of in-laws.

"My wife has a rather large family," Torre said. "She's one of 16 children. She said, 'Well, if we're going to do this, we've got to do it right.' So she invited all of her siblings and they all accepted. With their families and friends."

Torre, 74, had hoped his brother Frank could make the trip, but the 82-year-old former major leaguer was advised by doctors not to attend. Torre said he hoped Frank will be there when the Yankees retire his No. 6 on Aug. 23. Another daughter is in Scotland and was unable to attend.

As for the speech, the four-time World Series champion with the Yankees and frequent public speaker said this is as anxious as he's ever been in his professional life.

"I wake up in the morning . . . I can't tell you how many things I've written down or asked people to write down for me," he said. "We're trying to keep it short because we've got a pretty large class this year and I understand that. I'm trying to figure it out."

Even though he's jotted down some notes, Torre said his remarks will be from the heart. "It's not rehearsed, no," he said. "I can't do rehearsed. I've tried that in the past on different things. I've written down a lot of stuff over the last six months and how I was going to do it. They want you to do it in 8-10 minutes and I can understand that. I don't know where I'm going to be on this.

"It's not going to be scripted and I guarantee you when I get up there, that's when it'll come to me where I'm going to start. It may be a little confusing for people and I'll try to make sense of it. I have to tell people how I feel. I just got out there and looked where the people are going to be. It's going to be pretty amazing."

Glavine, who excelled with the Atlanta Braves but won his 300th game as a Met, said he has his speech down to "a shade over 10."

"Now it's just a matter of me seeing if I can read it a little faster," Glavine said. "Practicing a little bit more. I'm looking at about 11 1/2, 12."

The induction of Glavine, Maddux and Cox have given this Hall of Fame weekend a definite Atlanta flavor. Torre has Braves roots, too, as he played for the franchise in Milwaukee and Atlanta and managed it in Atlanta. But his best years came with the Yankees.

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"New York will always be home," said Torre, who was born in Brooklyn and also managed and played for the Mets. "The fans in New York City turned that city into a small town for me. And it's pretty cool."

With 40,000-50,000 fans expected for Sunday's ceremonies, the small town of Cooperstown will be turned into an even smaller town with a lot of people crammed into it in honor of the Class of 2014.

Not that anyone will mind. Even if the speeches go longer than 10 minutes each.

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