Joe Torre’s explanation as to why the New York Mets weren’t allowed to wear first-responder caps last week left fans unsatisfied and angry.
The former New York Yankees manager and current MLB Chief Baseball Officer was at Citi Field on Sunday for the Mets’ night game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was there to promote his Safe at Home Foundation but fielded questions about a variety of baseball topics. One touched on MLB’s denial of a Mets tribute on Wednesday night.
At the suggestion of Mets star Pete Alonso, the team was going to wear caps paying tribute to first-responders in the wake of the anniversary of the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. MLB rejected the proposal.
Torre acknowledged the merit of the idea, but said approvals on future ideas or rule adjustments wouldn’t be likely.
“The only problem is, and obviously I’m sensitive to 9/11, there’s no question about it, but what’s not important to do something different?” Torre asked, per Greg Joyce of the New York Post.
“We’re pretty stingy when it comes to allowing one team to do it because it’s only fair to the other 29. Anything that we allow, because unfortunately every day there’s something personal in every part of the country. We certainly are sensitive to it and we’ve allowed a lot of recognition of stuff that people have had to deal with.”
Alonso moved to a backup plan, which involved custom cleats bearing the name of both the NYPD and FDNY. Mets players were ready to accept any consequence from the uniform violation, but no discipline came down from MLB offices.
Torre noted that MLB has been more lenient in players’ footwear, but sought uniformity in jerseys and caps.
“We have no issues with patches and stuff,” Torre said. “But as far as the uniform, we try to keep that consistent.”
Fans took to social media to express their displeasure in Torre’s explanation.
Joe Torre explaining why the Mets couldn't wear hats to honor 9/11 victims pic.twitter.com/8XetOMS7Iq
— Billy McInerney (@wmcine) September 15, 2019
I’ve lost a lot of respect for Joe Torre. Shame on you. @MLB
— Kate Monto (@KMontoPronto) September 16, 2019
Brooklyn city councilman Justin Brannan was likewise not pleased, penning a letter to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
“This decision was a real slap in the face to all the first responders who stepped up during the worst terrorist attack in the history of our nation, with many making the ultimate sacrifice, right here in the greatest city in the world where the Mets play,” Brannan said in his letter, per Rich Calder of the New York Post. “This isn’t just about New York City, it’s about America.”
Torre’s logic seems to be contradictory. On July 22, the Houston Astros wore caps commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Per Joyce, Torre said he thought the Astros only wore the caps during batting practice.
Mets radio announcers Howie Rose and Wayne Randazzo had Torre join in their WCBS booth during the game. Torre remained steadfast in his Mets explanation, but stated it was possible the whole league could wear commemoration caps in a form of compromise.
The biggest takeaway from our visit with Joe Torre on @wcbs880 is the possibility of a compromise that could see all of MLB wearing caps in a tribute to 9/11 that would be league-wide in the future.
— Wayne Randazzo (@WayneRandazzo) September 15, 2019
Alonso’s idea was similar to what the Mets did in their September 21, 2001 game against the Atlanta Braves. The team wore caps bearing the insignias of the FDNY and NYPD in the team’s first game since the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.
Mike Piazza’s two-run home run in the penultimate inning gave the Mets and emotional 3-2 victory. Torre was the manager of the New York Yankees at the time.