The Torre Story: Will big baseball name help IRSC team make one for itself?

The name Torre is synonymous with baseball. Frank Torre Sr. played Major League Baseball as a first baseman for the Boston Braves, a team that later moved to Milwaukee. In 1957, he won a World Series with the Braves and later played for the Phillies. His brother Joe Torre is a member of the Hall of Fame, having played for several teams and managed the New York Yanks to four World Championships He is currently Major League baseball’s Chief Baseball Officer.

Frank’s son, Frank Torre Jr., took a different path, one that has led him to Indian River State College, where he has been named head baseball coach. Torre spoke recently about what brought him to Fort Pierce and what he learned about baseball and life from his family.

Torre attended William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens and got a scholarship to the University of New Orleans. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates and played in the major leagues for a short time.

“I retired on my own,” he said. “I wanted to go back and finish college. I stayed out of baseball for six or eight years; I was asked to help coach and the first day, I said, ‘Man. I need to be out there doing this.’ I was teaching at the time and I got hired as coach at Dwyer.”

Torre had great success at his alma mater, earning four Florida High School Athletic Association District Championship wins, a Regional Championship and an appearance in 2017 in the State Championship game. Six of his players were selected in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft and 44 have moved on to play college ball.

Torre gave a lot of thought to taking the IRSC position. “I was happy in high school,” he said. “I thought about whether I wanted to move, but it was an attractive and unique opportunity at IRSC. I was familiar with the programs and its history. I know what a sleeping giant it is. I really think it will be a great challenge and I’m excited to try to bring it back to where it was. I knew we can do that.”

While baseball is in his blood, he sees his role as coach as being about much more than sports.

“One of my favorite things about coaching is being around young men and molding them on and off the field in relationships that last a lifetime,” he said. “We compete for certain goals. I talk to guys five years after they’re done playing, seeing how they’re doing, and knowing that you’ve helped; that’s what it’s all about.”

Torre is the national director for the Student Athlete Community Service Network, which started in 2011.

“It was initially a way for players at Dwyer (to give back) and it exploded,” he said. “We have events in golf, lacrosse, baseball, softball. We host events and the kids play, and part of it is community service.”

At the golf tournament, players donated gas cards to assist the families of children at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital with travel expenses. “We thought it would help the players further on in life to make a difference. If you play a sport, people look up to you. It’s important how you conduct yourself on and off the field, in the classroom, the community and on the field. I like to stress it with the players.”

Torre comes by his interest in giving back from his father. “He was a really good example,” his son said. “He spent eight years in the major leagues and then he retired and went into business. He became chairman of the Business Assistance team, or BAT. It helps former players that struggled. He would see former teammates struggling with medical issues or with life after baseball. He knew, with all the money in the game today, that something could be done. Some players donate 1 or 2 percent of their salary to BAT. It was a great example to a young kid and it must have rubbed off on me.”

Torre has high regard for his uncle Joe, as well. “He’s a great person, a great guy,” he said. “I looked up to him. I was a bat boy. I learned a lot from him about managing and seeing how he dealt with things. I thought it was cool and never took it for granted. I soaked it all up. I know how cool it was and I appreciated every moment of it.”

Torre just came on the job at IRSC at the end of July and was just getting his roster settled when we spoke.

“The goal is to come in and compete and win the conference,” he said. “I want to set the tone from Day One. I want the kids to have a great experience.”

The coach will never forget his priorities. “Most important is getting a degree,” he said. “They need to take care of business in the classroom.”

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