Old-time baseball players rarely have problems filling out their uniforms. In fact, several at last night's Cracker Jack Classic at RFK Stadium could have used an extra, extra large.
But Joe Torre, whose home run in the second inning off Whitey Ford was the game-winning hit in the National League's 7-3 victory over the American League, is fit and trim, perhaps more so than during his 18-year playing career as a catcher with the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets.
"I felt real good out there," he said. "It helped that I got to catch for two innings. It had loosened my knees an limbered up some old muscles."
After his playing career ended, Torre managed for eight years, first with the Mets, then with the Braves. "When I got fired last year (by the Braves), I joined a health club and started a love affair with a life cycle. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me."
Torre, 45, played and managed only in the National League, but recently he has familiarized himself with players in the American League since he does commentary on California Angels games.
"It was strange getting to know these players," he said. "I'm still learning."
As for managing, "I don't miss it as much as I thought I would," he said. "I've got no hard feelings (toward Braves owner Ted Turner). He still pays my salary.
"I enjoyed my three years there. I'm sorry that I'm not still there, but when you have a general manager that you work for and he's not happy, certain things are going to happen. I had no problem with that."
Nineteen years ago, Torre hit 36 home runs for Atlanta. He hit 252 in his career. Of last night's homer off former Yankee Ford, Torre said, "I hit the dry side of the spitter."
"I hit a home run off Whitey when I was 20 years old in spring training. Being from New York, it was a big thrill. Last night's home run was not as much work as it was then, but it was more fun."
Another former Brave, all-time home run leader Henry Aaron, also showed he hadn't lost his touch. He homered off Early Wynn in the first, and Wynn said later of the pitch, "Same one he hit last time (in last year's game). A high fast ball about letter high -- which he pays me $100 for."
Former Senators player and manager Jim Lemon, also playing his first Cracker Jack game, hit a fourth-inning line drive home run for the American League's second run. Lemon, who drove in 100 runs and had 38 home runs 25 years ago, is a scout for the Minnesota Twins.
Asked his fondest memories of his playing and managing career with the Senators, he said, "We almost finished fourth one year."