Hall of Famer Joe Torre stresses domestic violence education

by Emily Roberts | Sep 23, 2014

Hall of Famer Joe Torre stresses domestic violence education

September 17, 2014
by Sarah Mervosh
The Dallas Morning News

Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Torre on Wednesday stressed the importance of domestic violence education in light of recent scandals involving NFL players.

Speaking in Dallas, Torre cited Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson as an example of the cycle of violence that persists unless awareness efforts intervene. Peterson is accused of beating his 4-year-old son with a tree branch, but the popular NFL player said he only disciplined his son as his father did him.

“That’s where I think the education portion of this thing, if we’re going to end the cycle, is to let these youngsters know it’s not OK — that there’s a respect you have to have,” Torre said at a luncheon for The Family Place, the city’s largest domestic violence agency.

The Family Place also recognized late billionaire and philanthropist Harold Simmons for his community contributions and for being a “an exceptional role model for Texas women and healthy families.”

Torre, a former baseball player and New York Yankees manager, spoke interview-style with WFAA-TV (Channel 8) sports anchor Dale Hansen. Both men grew up in abusive households, and their conversation marked the intersection of athletics and advocacy at a time when domestic violence has become an unprecedented issue in the sports world.

Peterson’s felony charge last week out of Montgomery County near Houston came just days after a video surfaced showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée out cold in an elevator.

Torre said the recent controversies have sparked appropriate outrage and encouraged important conversations about domestic abuse.

“I’m glad what’s happened recently that people are offended by it for a change,” Torre said.

Torre has touted domestic violence awareness since 2002, when he founded the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation. The foundation educates children to end the cycle of abuse and provides safe-rooms at schools where kids affected by abuse can seek help.

Torre’s childhood was marred by his father’s abusive relationship with his mother. He remembers the broken dishes, the demands for his mother to cook food in the middle of the night and the time his father reached for the drawer in the china closet where he kept his revolver.

Torre later learned that his father, a New York City policeman, had pushed his mother down the stairs upon learning she was pregnant with Torre: “He didn’t want her to get pregnant anymore.”

Hansen, who as a boy witnessed his father punch and break his mother’s nose, said, “What has been lost, to some degree, in the argument about domestic violence is the impact on the children.”

Torre agreed, and said he was plagued with insecurity — even into his professional career as an All-Star catcher — because of the violent environment he grew up in.

“I went through my whole baseball career feeling that yeah, if I got a couple of hits, I was validated,” Torre said. “But if I didn’t do well, I felt it was my fault. If I had done a little bit more, we wouldn’t have lost the ballgame.”

Torre said he created his foundation with the hope of giving kids the message he never got as a child: “They’re not alone and it’s not their fault.”

Read the full article at Dallasnews.com.