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CNN Larry King Live
Joe Torre's New Book
Aired January 30, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive the legendary baseball manager, Joe Torre -- his first TV interview about his controversial new book "The Yankee Years".
It spills the beans on A-Rod, nicknamed a fraud by other players. George Steinbrenner -- Torre calls him resentful and a tyrant.
Steroids -- Torre says he didn't see anything and never looked in anybody's locker.
Former Yankee pitcher Boomer Wells slams Torre as a punk who used to play favorites. Torre says Wells made his life miserable and meant to.
Is this the baseball tell-all that needed to be told or will it hurt the game?
Joe Torre -- the inside firsthand scoop on the book that's burning up best-seller lists even before it hits stores.
Your calls and questions all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
A night I've been excited about for weeks. Joe Torre is here, the current manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played for the Braves, Cardinals and the Mets, was MVP. He managed all three of those teams, too. He managed the Yankees, of course. And his new book is "The Yankee Years" -- an unbelievably candid book. I've got a copy right here in my hand. You're going to hear about it before you can even read about it. It goes on sale Tuesday.
Tonight, we'll also be in Yankee territory because we've got fans at Mickey Mantle Sports Bar in New York and from Joe Torre's hometown, Barney's Beanery, a sports bar here in Los Angeles. This is the current rage.
Did you ever think you would become, at this stage of your life and career, controversial?
JOE TORRE: No. And I'm a little surprised, you know, not really, you know because it came out of New York and it involved the Yankees, obviously. Or you're always in the storm's eye, so to speak, when you're with the Yankees.
But I -- you know, to me, the book is much more than controversial. I think it's very informative. And I'm very proud of, you know, coupling with Tom Verducci and how he wrote this book.
KING: Are you surprised then at the reaction, it's getting?
TORRE: You know, I say yes and then I realize, you know, it's New York. And it's not a slam at New York. But you know, New York -- the media center where things come out. And as I say that any time you talk about players -- even though, you know, I was very careful in how I told the story.
Larry, I had 12 years in New York. They were wonderful years. We won championships. We were in the World Series six times. And you know, I just wanted to let people know what it felt like. And I felt that's what I did.
KING: Well, it's a very honest book. It's not written in the first person.
KING: It's in the third person.
KING: All the quotes, though, attributable to you are your quotes, right?
TORRE: No question.
KING: All right.
Why did you write it or want to be a part of the writing of it?
TORRE: Well, I guess a little over two years ago, Tom Verducci approached me with an idea. Tom wrote my first book, "Chasing A Dream." And he had the idea let's, you know, do a narrative, which is what this book is. It's a chronicle about my 12 years in New York and, really, the changes that took place in baseball during those 12 years and a lot of the stuff that hasn't been talked about.
And, to me, this book is going to sit on shelves. It's going to be a piece of history, because it tells you the changes. It tells you how the Red Sox decided to change how they do business -- the Cleveland Indians. Plus it talks about the steroid stuff -- stuff I couldn't talk about in the first person. And Tom is a very well- respected, you know, reporter.
KING: But you're a bright guy.
Did you realize that some people might get upset at this?
TORRE: You know, I think there's always going to be something that someone is going to resent. But, overall, I think you said it, you were very honest in the book.
KING: Right. TORRE: And that's what my -- that's what I'd like to think that my reputation is, being honest. And I don't really think -- it certainly wasn't my intention to shock anybody with stuff in this book. I just wanted to, you know, maybe put a heartbeat on some of these players that people think are robotic and basically tell the story -- and tell people my feelings -- of course, you know, the good years. We won the World Series. We were in the World Series -- to explain my feelings and my thoughts and my decisions. And, of course, you have to talk about the years you didn't win, too.
KING: Mike Vaccaro of "The New York Post" writes: "Why, Joe? Why would you soil your own legacy? Why would you do anything to crush our communal memory of what should be the greatest eras in the history of sporting New York?"
TORRE: I don't think I took anything away from it -- away from that, I should say. You know, I think when people read the book and keep it in context, Larry, they're going to appreciate the book -- I mean, for what it contains. And I think they're going to get an inside peek at, you know, what went on.
I don't think, first off, there's nothing in that book that went on in the clubhouse that I wouldn't rewrite the same way, because I think it added a personality to it. I think it gave -- it gives people a -- an opportunity to sort of relive those years and relive those good times.
I certainly -- I can't lock back on the Yankee years and be bitter. Yes, I was relieved when I left there. But my 12 years experience is wonderful.
And I'm not going to make a negative of this, you know, over some people who, you know, certain -- picked certain things out of books and want to talk about it.
KING: How about those who say you violated the code?
That, like Vegas, what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse? Boomer Wells, a pitcher who certainly has his own problems and wrote a book himself, calls you a punk for breaking that code.
TORRE: Well, Boomer and I have always had this type of relationship. Yes, you know, he -- we've had problems. But, really, I think we've always respected each other professionally. And...
KING: Are you hurt by that?
TORRE: No, no. Knowing Boomer -- I mean Boomer and I would go at it, you know, one-on-one. But we had our Safe At Home Dinner in New York in November. And Boomer and I ran into each other, actually, on our last trip to San Diego.
And he said -- I said, I want you to come to our dinner, because we're honoring the '98 team at our Safe At Home Dinner in New York. And he says, well, I don't like you, or something to that effect. He says, but I'll go. Yes, I mean that's the kind of relationship we have. And I also wrote in the book about, you know, Kevin Brown and Boomer, is the fact that...
KING: You didn't like Kevin Brown?
TORRE: No, no. Yes -- that's not true. That's not true. I said they both -- they both drove you nuts, except Kevin Brown didn't mean to and Boomer did.
TORRE: That's all I said.
No, I wrote some things about Kevin Brown in that book to have people understand -- you know, aside from how much money he was making and how he didn't pitch well in New York, that, you know, he struggled trying to do well. And I just wanted to get that point across.
KING: But he was difficult to know, wasn't he?
TORRE: He -- he was very tough on himself. He was very tough on himself. As I said, I liked him because I just had a sense that, you know, he tried to do well, cared a great deal and just left no room for him to make mistakes. And it was a tough way to play.
KING: Joe Torre hits a home run with this new book. It's already a runaway best-seller. That's advanced sales -- way up there.
What does he make of the A-Rod and all the stories about Madonna?
It's ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TORRE: It's is a very special place to -- to play baseball, to manage baseball, just to be a whole part of the whole Yankees team. It's been very special and I'll never forget it. There really was no negotiation involved. I was hoping there would be, but there wasn't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Joe Torre.
TORRE: To get the opportunity to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers, it's just a great feeling to be here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He's managed in the two largest cities in America, the two best known teams -- the New York Yankees and now the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He's Joe Torre.
TORRE: And both teams are hated, you know, because... KING: Hated and loved.
TORRE: Hated and loved.
KING: One way or the other.
TORRE: Either one or the other. That's true.
KING: His book is "The Yankee Years".
Let's talk about A-Rod. Everyone else is. David Letterman joked about your new book and the Yankees' star last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN," COURTESY WORLDWIDE PANTS INC.)
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: In the book, this is what Joe Torre says. We pulled this excerpt. In the book, Joe Torre says of Alex Rodriguez -- this is a quote here. And he says: "He's a pretty boy who can't perform when it counts."
LETTERMAN: So if you say that about a -- no, Joe Torre. I'm sorry, Joe Torre didn't say that. That -- Madonna said that.
LETTERMAN: I don't know what I...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He'll be on -- on "Letterman" next week.
All right, here's some of what you say in the book about Alex, A- Rod: "When Alex came over, it became strained in the clubhouse. When it comes to a key situation, he can't get himself to concern himself with getting the job done instead of how it looks. Alex monopolized all the attention.
When Alex came over, he certainly changed just the feel of the club. And he needs all those statistics he needs every record imaginable."
Now, what's your view -- overall view here?
TORRE: I can't disagree with any of that. I mean Alex -- Alex is a special player. I don't think there's any player that's more talented than Alex Rodriguez. And he cares very deeply about doing well. Baseball is his life. He puts a lot of pressure on himself.
And when he first came over, I mean you can't put an Alex Rodriguez into a clubhouse and not think it's going to change, just based on, you know, who he is, his ability and what he's done in the past.
And the only thing I tried to get across to Alex was don't try to be the guy all the time. It's putting too much pressure on yourself. New York is a -- is a unique place to play because with the recent history where we had the success, they're only concerned about wins. So don't worry about anything else. Just go up there and do the best you can and they'll appreciate it.
And Alex, he wants all the records, sure. I mean he has the ability and he's that close to being able to accomplish things.
But Alex, as I say, puts a great deal of pressure. And the only thing I tried to do was keep him from putting all that pressure on himself, because I don't think anybody can perform under that that.
KING: Did that cause him to have problems with teammates?
TORRE: I don't -- you know, I don't think he ever had problems with teammates. I know the...
KING: But the A fraud was...
TORRE: The A fraud thing was more of a joking type thing. I know Larry Bowa used to take him out to hit ground balls...
KING: The coach?
TORRE: ...after he had a -- maybe a bad night or had made an error -- an error.
And he says who is it today, is it A-Rod or A-Fraud, you know?
And it was right there in front of him. It wasn't like anything was said behind his back.
KING: Did he have a conflict with Derek Jeter?
TORRE: No. I mean, am I saying they're the closest friends?
No. I mean they've known each other a long time. You know, they've known each other since they were kids.
KING: Oh, really?
TORRE: Yes. Oh, yes.
KING: And the one was in Miami, one was in Michigan.
TORRE: Yes, but they were -- you know, they were young players. I guess they came together in some amateur baseball. But they knew each other for a long time.
So -- but they never had any conflicts. As I say, you know, they weren't necessarily best friends, but they -- they were professionals and I thought they performed, you know, well together.
KING: How do you feel about A-Rod's divorce and Madonna and all that?
I know it was after you left.
But does it surprise you?
TORRE: Well, it's -- you know, sure it surprises me. And I feel bad for him. He has two young children. But I know Alex. He's a lightning rod. Everything he does, it always command a great deal of attention. And, you know, that's something, I guess, that goes with the territory of being who you are, especially when you're playing for the New York Yankees.
KING: Since they haven't won the Big Kahuna with him, would you say he's been a minus?
TORRE: No, not at all. I think after we went to the World Series in 2001 and lost to Arizona -- it was a great World Series. We lost it, but I still think it could have been the greatest of all the World Series that I managed. And those three games at Yankee Stadium were remarkable -- you know, after two -- after 9/11.
KING: You remember Luis Gonzalez, it tears your heart out.
TORRE: Yes, he finally -- you know, blew the base hit. But that was enough to win the ball game and win the World Series.
But Alex, you know, to me, I think after the 2001 season -- you know, we lost O'Neill, we lost Tino, we lost Brosius, we lost Knoblauch. There was a big part of our team, personality-wise, that changed.
Alex coming in, just like when Giambi came in, you know, these guys, when they were on their teams, Alex over at Texas, Giambi over at Oakland, they were the big guys. So, you know, we had a lot of those guys in our clubhouse. And it changes the personality somewhat, but it doesn't mean you can't win.
KING: You've managed some major personalities.
TORRE: Yes. Yes.
KING: Manny Ramirez.
TORRE: Yeas. Manny...
KING: Did you get along with him well?
TORRE: I did. I had Manny in several All Star games. And you know, it was -- but Manny is a fun-loving guy. He's got great ability. He scares me to death when he was, you know, 12 years hitting against me. It was nice this year to have a few months of having some other manager go crazy trying to get him out.
KING: Are you going to get him back?
TORRE: I hope so. We're trying. KING: There's no crying in baseball.
So who's the most upset over this book?
That's ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Our David Theall is deep in Yankee territory. He's at Mickey Mantle's tonight in New York City -- David, what are they saying?
DAVID THEALL, LARRY KING LIVE PRODUCER: Larry, we are at Mickey Mantle's Restaurant on Central Park South. By the way, there's a lot of memorabilia -- baseball memorabilia around here that is for sale.
Now, we have spotted a Joe Torre autograph that's here going for $1,500. We'll let you know if it sells before the end of the show.
We're live blogging, also, Larry, from New York City while you're doing the interview. And we are getting comments already. Joe, one person says: "Joe, seeing you is like seeing an uncle I'm not supposed to talk to anymore because he divorced my aunt. I'm confused," he says, "and sad."
Now we also heard from somebody else, a female, who chimed in. She says: "I am a lifelong Yankee fan." She asked if you're feeling like you're burning any bridges. And she says: "Just make sure you leave my Derek Jeter alone." And she ends it, Joe, with saying: "P.S. I still love you."
That's the scene from Mickey Mantle's Restaurant, Larry, in New York City.
We're going to continue the live blogging -- CNN.com/larryking. Look for that blog link, click it, jump into the conversation and we'll update you later in the show about what people are saying.
KING: Thanks, David.
Now we check in with Scott.
He's at Barney's Beanery, a sports bar in Los Angeles.
Scott, you got a question for Joe?
SCOTT: Yes. Hey, Joe, do you think that writing a book about your days in New York will have any effect on your relationship with your players right now?
KING: Good question.
TORRE: I think it's a great question. And you know what?
I could say I hope so, because they don't want you to write a book unless you win a championship. So hopefully, we'll have that issue later on.
I don't think so, because, again, when -- the other question was am I burning any bridges?
I did not burn any bridges. As I say, when I -- when I talked about what went on in the clubhouse, I think -- I don't think there was any sensitive material that was in there that I felt shouldn't have been in there.
KING: We'll be back in 60 seconds with Joe Torre.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) And he makes the catch. The Yankees win! The Yankees win!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Yankees have won the 1996 World Series. They surmounted every challenge. They have climbed every mountain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Yankees win!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ball game over. World Series over. Yankees win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The New York Yankees are, once again, world champions. They've within their third straight championship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forget about team of the decade, this is a team for the ages. This is the team of the century.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Joe Torre.
The book is "The Yankee Years".
TORRE: Let me say something. Just watching that gives me goose bumps, you know, that -- all those world championships. This is what I wanted to share -- good times, what it was like, what it felt like, things you had to go -- things that went into making decisions. And, you know, unfortunately, there are years that you lose that you have to share that, too. Otherwise it wouldn't be an honest book.
KING: So you're sharing bad times, too?
TORRE: Well, you have to. I mean, if you're going to include the 12 years, obviously, the last three years were a little -- were a lot tougher on me and the last year was very difficult. And I thought when I left there after the 2007 season, it was basically, you know, something mutual. I think they were looking for some other direction. And I just needed to move on.
KING: When did you last have contact with A-Rod?
TORRE: With Alex?
I haven't talked to Alex for a while. I've had, you know, best wishes through people. But I -- you know, I text him on occasions. But I have not talked to Alex since I left.
KING: Do you think you'll hear from him?
TORRE: I don't know. I may. But I don't -- as I say, I don't think there's anything in this book that's going to, you know, make Alex angry...
KING: You don't think it...
TORRE: ...or keep us from being friends.
TORRE: No, I really don't.
KING: You say you never got trust from the Yankee front office, not even when you were winning. You say it bothered you.
KING: So were you even, during the winning years, angry inside?
TORRE: I wouldn't say they didn't trust me. You know, the thing is George, god love him, he -- you know, he always wanted to go to the whip, go to the whip. And, you know, George is that kind of owner that, you know, wants to be in total control. And, again, he really didn't give you an opportunity to enjoy what you had done, because he was always striving for the next good thing to happen. So it was, you know, you...
KING: So then it wasn't fun?
TORRE: It was exciting. It was exciting. And the winning is fun. There's nothing that can replace the feeling of winning. You watch Charlie Hayes catch that pop up and, you know, watch Chad Curtis catch a fly ball, Bernie Williams against the Mets, stuff like that.
KING: But if they're hugging you and it's fun, but two days later they want to know about next year...
TORRE: Yes, but that's -- you know what?
It's all worth the price you have to pay. There's no question. When I was first offered the job with the Yankees, my brother Frank says, what are you crazy?
You're going to work for this man. He's changed so many managers. But it -- there's something about athletics, you get an opportunity to win and you really -- you really you pay a price for it, but it I don't think you'd want it any other way.
KING: Do you feel you were betrayed? TORRE: No. I don't feel I was betrayed.
KING: I mean the contract they offered you was demeaning.
TORRE: Well, I don't know, it wasn't demeaning. Any time they offer you $5 million to -- to -- you know, manage...
KING: But you were making more...
TORRE: I was making more than that. The only thing that bothered me in that whole exchange, Larry, was they were going to reduce my salary from $7 million to $5 million and then they were going to give me money back if we won the division, if we won the championship.
TORRE: Incentives, thinking that that would motivate me to do a better job. You know, winning is enough of a motivation. And that's -- that's what bothered me.
KING: So demeaning is the term then?
TORRE: Yes, well, it wasn't the money. It wasn't the money, even though, you know, we're talking about a lot of money. And it was more or less that -- you know, that they thought I needed motivation to do a better job as a manager and it bothered me. And my wife, Allie, said that you're probably too sensitive. You know who you're working for, you probably shouldn't be this sensitive. And I said you're probably right, but that's who I am.
KING: Let's go back to the Mickey Mantle's -- back to the Mickey Mantle scene in New York.
A question from Candi (ph).
Candi, go ahead.
My question is for Joe.
Did you sign any sort of prenup or any sort of nondisclosure with the Dodgers before you started with them or maybe since the book has come out?
TORRE: As far as what?
KING: Oh, I guess not. Well, let's put it this way.
TORRE: I've got...
KING: There's a report that the Yankees are now asking all of their employees -- players and otherwise -- to sign an agreement that they will not write a book. TORRE: I think...
KING: And this is based on your book.
TORRE: No, it isn't. They have done that before.
KING: Oh, they have?
TORRE: Yes. They've -- they've asked like coaches and they've asked me in the past, you know, as part of it, not to -- not to write a book.
KING: So are you breaking some (INAUDIBLE)...
TORRE: No, I never agreed to it.
KING: Oh, you never agreed?
TORRE: No, I never agreed.
KING: Have the Dodgers asked you to sign anything?
TORRE: No. Oh, I'd like -- you know, I'd like to believe -- as I say, I don't -- I don't think this book is doing anything but really retracing the history of my Yankee years, which is what I wanted to do.
KING: So then going back, you have to be shocked by all of this?
TORRE: Well, I'm shocked by the initial reaction. And the only reason I'm not upset by it, Larry, is the fact that I know once people read the book, they'll -- I think it will be more in perspective and they'll have a better understanding of what it's about.
KING: We'll talk about George Steinbrenner right after this.
KING: We're back with Joe Torre. The book is "The Yankee Years." You have had some tough stuff to say about Steinbrenner. Her's a couple quotes: "he would be a tyrant who would second-guess a lot of stuff" that you did. "He was resentful of the credit I got." He wanted to scare you in front of other people. It drove him nuts when it made sense when I talked to him. That doesn't sound like the best --
TORRE: That's not saying bad things about him.
KING: That's not?
TORRE: That's not. All of those things I think George would be proud of, because he liked --
KING: Are you proud of it?
TORRE: Yes. He liked being the boss. Everybody in the world knew he -- know he's tough. They know he, you know, can threaten you at any time. But that was -- that was the excitement. And the thing that I kept telling George -- I just want to make -- you know, I want to make him proud of what we are doing. And for -- for a long period of time we did do that.
But I don't think any of those things that I said about George were -- were criticism. It was just describing what it's like to work for a tough boss. And, you know, these are things I said in front of George. We used to argue back and forth. But again, at the end of the day --
KING: But he wanted credit for something you did?
TORRE: He got me the players. He got me the players. I couldn't have done it without the players he got. I certainly agreed with that. That's why I said that George was always moving on to the next year. I talked about in the book also, because he used to give my coaches 25,000 dollars bonuses every year, if we win the World Series. All of a sudden, after we beat the Mets, you know, he says I'm not going to give the coaches bonuses this year. He just does it to get a reaction. And then New Year's Eve, he calls me and says, I changed my mind. I'm going to give them bonuses.
But that was George. That's where that love-hate stuff comes in. He does things that get your attention.
KING: He wanted to get rid of coaches?
TORRE: He has done that to Billy more than he did it to me. We changed some coaches. But George never really was one that wanted me to change coaches.
KING: We have an iReport text question. It's from Egg Harbor Township in New Jersey. "Should you be fortunate enough to play the Yankees in the World Series and came up to A-Rod during the first game, what would you say to him?" Supposing you hadn't talked to him.
TORRE: Well, all I can say, unless I am just completely off base, there would be a hug involved. I don't think it would forced by either one of us.
KING: Would that be a kick to play the Yankees in the World Series?
TORRE: When you finish the sentence with World Series, yes.
KING: Dodger-Yankee World Series with Joe Torre.
TORRE: It would be a busy time. But it would be wonderful to really play in the World Series. You never get tired of that stuff.
KING: With Manny Ramirez back against the Yankees.
TORRE: What memories.
KING: The general manager, Brian Cashman, some papers reported you felt betrayed by him. That word is not in the book. You don't use the word betrayed. But there is an implication that he didn't -- he could have stood up for you more and he didn't?
TORRE: We probably have two different thoughts on that. Take this book, my name, Tom Berducci's name. The reason my name is above his, by the way, is because T comes before B. I just want you to know that.
KING: Your picture.
TORRE: That's my picture, I know. But Brian Cashman -- this is my perspective, was what I was about to say. It doesn't mean that everything in there people are going to agree that that was the case. And I think in Brian's case, we had disagreements, which I don't think is anything unhealthy. I don't think there is anything wrong with it. As far as the support that I had at the end -- you know, he is the general manager. I know he saved my bacon a time or two.
But I don't -- I know there are things in that book he doesn't agree with. There's certain things about pitching coaches, certain things about my contract at the end. I think betrayed is a strong word. You know, I can't use that. I don't feel that way. But I think it was time for -- I think that Brian, in spite of our getting along well, you know, was probably ready for a change also.
KING: How do you get along with Ned Coletti, the Dodger general manager?
TORRE: Ned's fine. And I got along with Brian. I don't want you to think this was some kind of bad relationship. Again, I thought he changed a little bit. I said that in the book, where I felt that once he had the autonomy to do things that -- you know, he did some things that were very different than he did in the past. And, you know, change doesn't mean that he did something wrong. It's just something I wasn't used to. And I think we had some disagreements along those lines.
KING: Our sports bars in New York and L.A. are on deck. We have fans with questions and phone calls with Joe Torre, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Torre, a 21-year-old rookie, Torre has played with the poise of a seasoned pro. Torre is tapped as a future superstar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Torre is a dangerous man at bat, with a good eye, and easily capable of the long ball.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Torre, at age 25, is on his way to becoming one of baseball's all time greats.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: They forget what a player he was. Joe Torre from Brooklyn, New York, the current manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the author --
TORRE: Before you go any further, I want to give you this from Jamie and Frank McCourt.
KING: Dodger cup. I have seen the old one. This is a new one.
TORRE: That is a new one.
KING: Hopefully a good sign.
KING: I will drink from a Dodger cup. Did you send Manny Ramirez one?
TORRE: I haven't.
KING: Let's go to David in Los Angeles. He is at the Barney's Beanery. David, are you there? What is the question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Mr. Joe. How are you tonight?
TORRE: Just fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question -- OK, my question is this: do you feel that the direction of your team is severely compromised when over-priced and under-producing free agents are signed and played at the expense of cheaper and more productive players?
KING: Over-priced free agents signed. And then they have to play because you paid them a lot of money and there are better players sitting behind them?
TORRE: Well, you signed these players and give them money because you feel that -- you know, you pay them for a reason, because they're good players. And I know in Andruw Jones' case last year, I kept playing him because I knew he was a much better player than he was showing. As it turned out, he could never recover. But for the most part, managers play -- even though somebody gets paid more money, when it gets down to that point in the season where you think that the season is irretrievable, that, you know -- he does -- the manager will do whatever he thinks he has to do. But I don't think because you make a lot of money that means you automatically play. You automatically play because they think you have talent.
KING: Take a call from Shelton, Connecticut. Hello.
CALLER: Thanks, Larry. My question for Mr. Torre. First off, I am a huge Yankee fan. What would you say to the Yankee fan who might say you turned your back on an organization that provided you with so much fame and fortune?
TORRE: Well, I hope that is not the case. I know when I left -- and I talked about the money a few minutes ago -- there was a situation. I mentioned earlier that when I left there, that there was -- that was the worst year of my 12 years. Every week, I had to answer questions on my status, if I was going to get fired, because we had such a bad record early on.
And really probably the straw that broke the camel's back at the end was that I asked for a two-year contract. It didn't matter what the terms were as far as money. If I got fired during the first year, I would have to get paid for both years. So if I got fired after the first year, I didn't really care what the pay out was, what the buyout was, I should say, because I just wanted one year to just be able to concentrate on baseball, without people asking me about my job status at that time. That is really something I couldn't get the Yankees to agree to.
KING: Let's go to Mickey Mantle's restaurant in New York and a Tammy with question. Tammy, are you there?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, hi, Joe. I am a big Yankee fan. And we are very ardent. We are involved in all of the ins and outs of everything that goes on with the Yankees. How do you find the Dodgers' fans compare?
TORRE: Well, I was always very careful wording my reaction to Dodgers' fans last year. And we won the division. It was a wonderful feeling in Dodger Stadium. It's really hard to duplicate what went on in New York at Yankee Stadium. I mean, those fans are so close. At times, you could feel the heartbeat. The Yankee fans in New York were about as special as any fans I have ever been around.
KING: The night you beat the Cubs?
TORRE: I understand.
KING: When you won the third straight game. Broxton struck out Soriano. Hey, that was great.
TORRE: It was wonderful when the season started how sort of luke warm everybody was. And then by -- that was the -- the height of it at the end, when he struck out Sori, and we won the division against the best club in the National League, basically, to go on to the Championship Series. The fans were so different than they were earlier in the year.
But, again, as I say, you have to put Yankees Stadium, because of what it represents and what I experienced there in 12 years, in a class by themselves.
KING: Remember, you can't steal first base. Back in 60 second.
KING: Back to Mickey Mantle's and David Theall. David, what's up?
DAVID THEALL, LARRY KING LIVE PRODUCER: Larry, we want to tell you that we are at Mickey Mantle's restaurant. We have to mention, we talked about all that memorabilia around here. It's amazing to be surrounded by this kind of memorabilia. It's all available, as you and Joe know, for purchase. Mickey Mantle's restaurant on Central Park South here in New York City.
Listen, we are still monitoring the comments on the blog, CNN.com/LarryKing. Got a couple more comments for Joe. Somebody chimed in and said, "Joe, you broke my heart, plain and simple."
Another person says, "I think many of us fans hoped that you would eventually return to us, just as Billy Martin did." He says "I hope this book hasn't ended that."
Larry, here is one for you. "I think Joe would make a very good president of the United States." He wants to know will Joe ever consider running for the presidency? That's how we are doing it here. We're going to continue this conversation, CNN.com/LarryKing. Look for the live blog link, click it, jump into the conversation. Larry?
KING: That I would answer for him. I doubt that right?
TORRE: I will let President Obama handle the next four years.
KING: What do you think of him, by the way?
TORRE: I think he has plenty of energy and is very bright, and hopefully people are patient enough to not want something fixed quick.
KING: And a White Sox fan?
TORRE: Well, that is OK. Chicago is pretty good town.
KING: Now we check in at our sports bar in L.A. with a question from Dorreal. Dorreal, go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Mr. Torre. I was curious, people around me are asking, was the purpose of writing your book purely monetary? If so, are some of the profits going to go towards your great charity work?
TORRE: Thank you for mentioning the charity, our Safe at Home Foundation against domestic violence. It was not monetary. I mean, we got paid a lot of money, Tom and myself. This was something that Tom and I agreed to do over two years ago. It is before I even was leaving the Yankees or thought I was leaving the Yankees. And once I left the Yankees, you know, I never thought I was going to manage again anyway. And then the Dodger opportunity came up.
But, you know, we -- my wife Allie and I take carry good care of our Safe at Home Foundation. And hopefully, we can continue to do good work out here. We're going to hopefully introduce our Safe at Home Foundation out here.
KING: You ought to. It's a very charitable area. Joe is really throwing some heat tonight. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEREK JETER, YANKEE: He is a players' manager. I think everyone here loves him to death.
ANDY PETTITTE, YANKEE: He has done a great job. He's made all the right moves for us. We've been spoiled here with him as our manager.
GEORGE STEINBRENNER, OWNER OF THE YANKEES: If you wanted a man with strength and character and dignity and guts, you got him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joe Torre is the guest. And we go to Ventura, California. Hello.
CALLER: Yes. Joe, hi.
CALLER: Billy Dean, after he retired, announced he was gay. Do you see a time in the future when an active player can safely announce he is gay. If he did, what affect would that have on Major League Baseball?
TORRE: That is a great question. I don't know. I just hope that an active player, if that's the case, can feel free to do that. That's all I can say. But I don't know. I mean, obviously, you have 25 players in the club house. And you know it's -- it's going to be tough for everybody to feel the same as maybe I do. But I would like to believe that our country is turning in that direction.
KING: You would have no problem?
TORRE: I would have no problem.
KING: Back to the Barney's Beanery, and Tyler has a question for Joe Torre. Tyler?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Joe, how's it going. Who is the most purely gifted athlete that you have ever coached or managed?
TORRE: I don't think there's any question, Alex Rodriguez, gifted. Ability wise, he can do everything. He's got all the tools. He can steal a base. He can throw. He can hit with power. He can hit to the opposite field. He's a good defensive player. And he's done all these things at a very young age. So he is the most gifted, I don't think there's any question.
KING: Gary Sheffield said once that you treated black players differently than white ones. And you write, he always was a suspicious person. Do you think he was reading it wrong? TORRE: He had some mood swing. What I tried to do -- and I don't get it right all the time. But I try to treat everybody fairly. I don't think you can treat everybody the same, because they're all different personalities. But I felt, in Gary's case, that, you know, we had a good relationship. We didn't -- again -- we -- there was one time I called him out for not hustling, what I thought was not hustling. And he was in a bad mood. And I called him in my office and said, do we have something to talk about? And he started saying that I told the press about --
First off, he said that I was just trying to deke the runner; I wasn't not hustling. I said, if that's the case, I apologize. But I didn't tell the newspaper men because it was in the paper. But Gary and I never had any issues. As I say, we didn't always agree, but I like to believe that he was treated fairly.
KING: On steroids, you write, you never saw it. Players never talked about it. You said you respected guys' privacy?
TORRE: I always did that, even before the steroid issue. I never went in players lockers or tried to sneak around the corner. In regards to steroids, I think we're all to blame, all of baseball. I never realized how far reaching this problem has been. I'm not saying that we as managers and coaches, that you don't look across the field and said, you know, this guy has gotten big from last year, and stuff like that. But, again, it's not like loading a bat. But I was always a little hesitant to accuse people of loading a bat to hit a ball farther. I was always very hesitant to approach people, because I never had any evidence that I had firsthand knowledge of.
KING: Did you talk to Giambi about it? He said he admitted it.
TORRE: He admitted it. We talked around it. We never talked about it, because I was always concerned, like I am with steroids, about the player's health. I always checked with him to see if he was OK. I never wanted to put him in a position where he had to answer a manager's question, because it could have affected his livelihood. And I didn't think I was that person. As I say, I didn't think I was the person that should be doing that.
KING: Headed into the bottom of the ninth, when LARRY KING LIVE returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT DENIRO, ACTOR: Let me ask you something.
DENIRO: Do you think the Yankees are going to go all the way this year?
TORRE: Where can you find me? At the intersection of my new life and my new lifestyle. DAVID LETTERMAN, "THE LATE SHOW": Top ten reasons Joe Torre said, hey, no dice.
TORRE: We'll do our best.
DENIRO: It would be very important to me personally. You understand?
LETTERMAN: And the number one reason Joe Torre quit, even Yogi Berra told him, it's over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The book is "The Yankee Years." The guest is Joe Torre. A couple of other things. Prostate cancer, how are you doing?
TORRE: Knock on wood, fine. You know, cancer to me -- first off, when I was first diagnosed back in '99 -- it will be ten years in march.
KING: You were on this show.
TORRE: Yes. And it scared the heck out of me, because you hear the word cancer. Once you get information, once, you know, people start talking to you and you find doctors and they explain to you, you realize that research is all important. You know, Mike Milken, the money that he has raised for cancer research has been remarkable.
One thing you have to realize is that cancer is not something you necessarily cure, but you want to just take care of yourself and extend your life as long as you can. And so far, so good.
KING: How do you like living in L.A.?
TORRE: I enjoy it. We were a little concerned. My daughter Andrea, who was 11 at the time we decided to move, was a little upset about it, but she's making an adjustment and she's doing well.
KING: We have some future Dodgers over here. They're going to array and come up. My son Chance.
TORRE: There's a number 99 over there. What does that mean?
KING: And two of their friends.
TORRE: How are you.
KING: Just want to wish Joe good luck. We thought this would be appropriate to show that baseball is the game of the future. Here the kids.
TORRE: Baseball is alive and well in Los Angeles.
KING: There's no problem with baseball.
TORRE: Look at this little subliminal little line here. KING: Show the back of the shirt. This is kind of a hit.
TORRE: Hair's not quite as long though.
KING: No. How is it look about Manny?
TORRE: We're trying. We're trying. I spoke to Manny a couple of times just to let him know we definitely want him. I know Russell Martin has spoken to him.
KING: So players have spoken to him?
TORRE: Sure. You're allowed to do that. And hopefully we can get something done. We'll see.
KING: Will you friendly with his agent?
TORRE: Scott Boras I have known a long time. We both played in the Cardinal organization. I'm a lot older than Scott, but he's a very tough man, very tough agent. He does a good job for his clients. And as I say, I hope we can find some middle ground somewhere.
KING: You get along so well with the kids.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I ask one question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say if you don't get Manny -- I already asked you this in the make up room --
TORRE: We were both in the make up room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we don't get Manny --
KING: We're going to be out of time.
TORRE: Bobby Abreu, would he be a possibility?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would he have problems?
TORRE: Would he have problems because of the book? I don't think I say anything bad about Bobby Abreu. I don't think I said anything about anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's over already? Come on.
KING: Don't forget to watch D.L. Hughley's "D.L. HUGHLEY BREAKS THE NEWS" on Saturday night. D.l., what do you have?
D.L. HUGHLEY, CNN ANCHOR: This week, I get to meet my hero, Governor Blagojevich. This is the interview you don't want to miss.
ROD BLAGOJEVICH, FMR. GOVERNOR OF ILLINOIS: Hero? I like that.
KING: You don't want to miss D.L. Hughley. He breaks the news tomorrow night, following our interview with then Governor Rod Blagojevich. As we mentioned tomorrow night, Blagojevich. Sunday night, disgraced Evangelical Ted Haggard. How we doing? Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?