Former Yankees manager Joe Torre and his wife Ali, right,...

Former Yankees manager Joe Torre and his wife Ali, right, walk past a newly unveiled monument of the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. (Sept. 20, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

As the Steinbrenner family led the procession of Yankees players across the field to Monument Park for the unveiling of George Steinbrenner's monument, Joe Torre inconspicuously emerged from the Yankees dugout.

Walking with his wife, Ali, and surrounded by people such as Reggie Jackson and Tino Martinez, Torre wasn't immediately noticed by Yankees fans.

But then his image appeared on the large screen in centerfield, and the fans cheered, bringing tears to Torre's eyes. He waved his hand at the fans, even blowing a few kisses.

And so marks the end to the three-year divide between the Yankees and their most successful manager since Joe McCarthy.

Making his first appearance at Yankee Stadium since his ugly departure following the 2007 season, Torre took his share of blame for the way his 12-year run as Yankees manager finished. "I think it was both parties not knowing how to say goodbye," he said, "and that's how it turned out to be."

Any chance of a quick reconciliation, though, ended when Torre had published "The Yankee Years," a book that several Yankees officials took issue with. General manager Brian Cashman, perhaps Torre's closest confidant during his time as Yankees manager, was so angered by Torre's portrayal of events that they hadn't spoken since the book came out.

That changed Monday afternoon. As Torre finished speaking with reporters just before 5 p.m., Cashman popped his head into the room and extended his arm. Torre pulled him close for a hug. The duo then retreated to a back room and spoke behind closed doors about their differences.

While Cashman did not say he forgave Torre for the book, he made it clear that he was ready to move forward and become friends again. "We've just got to turn the page," Cashman said, and that's what the Yankees did by inviting Torre to attend in the first place.

Torre said that after he announced Friday that he was stepping down as Dodgers manager following the season he had a message on his phone from Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost with the invitation. "I was just thrilled about getting the invitation," Torre said.

With the Dodgers off yesterday, Torre accepted the invite and brought Dodgers hitting coach (and manager-to-be) Don Mattingly with him. Last night also marked Mattingly's first visit to Yankee Stadium since the Yankees chose Joe Girardi instead of the former Yankee captain to replace Torre.

Mattingly said Torre's three years away from Yankee Stadium reminded him of the feud Yogi Berra had with Steinbrenner that lasted 14 years, though he was glad it didn't last as long. "I think it's time," Mattingly said.

The time away has helped put that in perspective, and he insisted Monday that he has nothing but good feelings for the Yankees. "Trust me, I signed more Yankee stuff than I ever signed Dodger stuff," Torre said, "because there are Yankees fans all over this world, much less this country."

As the Steinbrenner family and Yankees players led the way to Monument Park, Torre was joined by Jackson, Yogi Berra, Martinez, Roy White, David Wells, Lee Mazzilli and Gene Michael.

Steinbrenner's widow, Joan, pulled the curtain off the seven-foot-wide, five-foot-high monument. Then she posed along with her children Hal, Hank, Jessica and Jennifer in front of it.

But while the ceremony was held to honor The Boss, it will also be remembered for Torre's return to the Yankees family. "George in my opinion not only belongs in Monument Park, he belongs in the Hall of Fame," Torre said. "I feel very honored to be a part of this tribute."

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