During the 1995 offseason, New York Yankees general manager Bob Watson and new manager Joe Torre made some bold moves. They allowed free agent catcher Mike Stanley to sign with the Boston Red Sox and acquired Joe Girardi from the Colorado Rockies.

Stanley was an offensive force that Girardi couldn’t come close to matching.

In his three seasons as the Yankees’ regular catcher, Stanley batted .290, hit 61 home runs, and drove in 224 runs. Girardi, in seven years with the Chicago Cubs and then the Rockies, had hit .269 with 18 home runs and 190 RBIs.

Torre told Murray Chass of the New York Times why he was pleased to acquire Girardi.

“It depends on what’s important to you,” said Torre at the time. “My priority is a catcher…When a pitcher has confidence in a catcher, he pitches better…Hopefully we’ll have enough offense. We could make up elsewhere what we’re going to lose behind the plate.”

In his first season with the Yankees, Girardi turned some heads, as he batted .294/.346/.374 and did an outstanding job behind the plate. The Yankees, led by Torre, beat the highly favored Atlanta Braves in the World Series to win their first world championship since 1978.

Girardi shared the regular catching job in 1998 with a young future Hall of Famer named Jorge Posada. Following the 1999 season, the Yankees allowed Girardi to become a free agent. He signed with his old team, the Chicago Cubs.

As everyone knows, Girardi is a shrewd individual. He realized that Posada was being groomed as Thurman Munson’s successor in the long line of great Yankees catchers (Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, and Munson).

In an interview during spring training of 1999, Girardi discussed his plans for the future.

Girardi told sportswriter Buster Olney that general manager Brian Cashman often joked about Girardi becoming the Yankees general manager with Cashman serving as his assistant. Girardi admitted that he was fascinated by the possibility of becoming a general manager.

“It’s something that intrigues me. I want to stay in the game. I’ve been on the field and I want to see what an off-the-field position would be like. I’ve told some of the general managers I’ve played under I have an interest in doing that.”

Cashman told Olney he thought Girardi’s ability to deal with people was a great strength that would help him become an outstanding general manager.

Of course, Girardi eventually did replace a member of the Yankees management team, but it wasn’t Mr. Cashman.

On Oct. 30, 2007, Girardi succeeded Joe Torre as the Yankees manager. In many ways, Torre was Girardi’s idol.

When Girardi was hired to manage the Florida Marlins in 2006, he told Charles Noble of the New York Times that Joe Torre influenced him more than any other individual.

“Joe Torre taught me how to get the best out of your players,” said Girardi. “Know the personality of your players and how the personality affects them on a day-to-day basis. His communication skills with his players are unbelievable. Instead of responding to what a player might say, he thought it was more important to understand why he would say it.”

In his first year at the helm with the Yankees, Torre led them to the world championship. In his first year at the helm with the Yankees, Girardi’s team failed to make the playoffs for the first time since the strike-shortened 1994 season, when no team made the playoffs. Going back one year, the Yankees weren’t in the playoffs in 1993.

In 2009, Girardi’s Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, but in 2010, the Texas Rangers soundly defeated the Yankees to win the pennant.

This season, Girardi has his work cut out for him. His team lacks reliable starting pitching, has one ineffective left-hander in the bullpen, and lacks a consistent offense.

Brian Cashman’s contract expires at the end of this season. It has been rumored that he might consider offers from other teams. It would not be wise to dismiss Girardi’s feelings about becoming a general manager.


By, M. C. (1995, Nov 21). Yanks acquire girardi to fill stanley’s spot behind plate. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. B11-B11. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/109483524?accountid=46260

By, B. O. (1998, Mar 19). Girardi sees his future as a general manager. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. C4-C4. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/109907704?accountid=46260

Joe Girardi

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