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More than 50 years ago, Joe Torre listened intently as his older brother, Frank, told stories of a western Pennsylvania steel mill city where a weeklong baseball tournament was played in a uniquely configured stadium.

“Years before I played there I had heard Frank talking about, ‘Johnstown, Johnstown,’ ” said Torre, the Los Angeles Dodgers manager, during a four-game series against the Pirates at PNC Park last week.

The Torre brothers made their mark in Johnstown during a combined six AAABA Tournament appearances. The Flood City also made an impression on them.

“I remember we’d go out, and just like anything else, you’d have curfew and you’d try to sneak out and have a good time, find out where the girls were,” Joe Torre said, smiling. “To me it was a great camaraderie thing with teammates and realizing just the whole team concept of winning together, losing together and having fun together.

“The stadium was a big thing. Not everybody gets to play in Point Stadium when the tournament starts. You play in the outlying fields. I got to play in Point Stadium once. It was cool. The town was all caught up in it, too.”

The city still supports the AAABA Tournament, which concluded its 64th annual event last month. Some things simply don’t change.

After playing in Johnstown, both Torre brothers went on to success in the major leagues as players. The Torres played in the AAABA Tournament at a time when dozens of major league scouts crammed into reserved seats behind home plate at Point Stadium, looking for future stars.

Frank Torre provided the scouts an eyeful. He was the AAABA Tournament’s most valuable player in 1950.

The lefty went 3-0 as a pitcher and batted .381 as the Brooklyn Cadets won the championship. He played in four AAABA Tournaments, including once as a 14-year-old when the 1946 event was held in Washington D.C.

“I remember one time, he pitched when his eyes swelled up and he couldn’t see because he had a nose problem,” Joe Torre said. “He was pitching with puffed up eyes. It was really incredible in the tournament.”

Frank Torre tossed back-to-back starts in a pair of tournament-clinching wins over Baltimore Butta Brothers in the ’50 tournament. The clutch pitcher had a 4-0 shutout and a 3-1 win in front of 4,000 fans at the Point.

Frank Torre had fond memories of the AAABA Tournament during a Tribune-Democrat interview prior to the tourney’s 60th anniversary.

“The tournament helped me grow up,” Frank Torre said then. “I started going to Johnstown when I was 15 years old. I played with the Cadets and went to Johnstown several times. I had some spectacular numbers hitting and pitching. But I met some wonderful people there. We played before some big crowds. It was exciting. The first girlfriend I had in life I met in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, when I was just a gung-ho baseball player. It was a great place to go.”

By the time Joe Torre traveled to Johnstown in 1958 for the first of his two tournaments, Frank was in his third major league season with the Milwaukee Braves.

Joe built on a family tradition by excelling against AAABA competition.

He won the 1958 batting crown with a .647 average and 11 hits in five games.

Big-brother Frank had a role in making Joe a more viable prospect during the 1959 AAABA Tournament.

“The first year I went to Johnstown as a pitcher-first baseman,” Joe Torre said. “In ’59, I went there as a catcher. I was heavy. When I was 16 years old I was 240 pounds. I was a big kid. Frank is the one that told me, ‘If you want to play this game, if you want to get to the big leagues, you’re going to have to do it as a catcher.’ The rest is history, so to speak. It worked out for me. I was in the big leagues and I played all the other positions I played, first and third.”

Frank Torre recalled how Joe brushed aside criticism from scouts who thought he was too big and slow.

“Ted Williams was a dear friend of mine and he sent a scout from the Boston Red Sox to see (Joe) play,” Frank Torre said. “A scout sent a telegram that said not only is he not a major league prospect, but he’s not even a professional prospect. This was when he was only 18 years old.”

When Frank persuaded Joe to become a catcher, he had some clout with the Brooklyn AAABA team.

“I told the Cadets to either catch him or he was going to have to play somewhere else,” Frank Torre said. “They caught him. In fact, it was in Johnstown and he really didn’t do very well. But because he was catching, he caught the eye of several ballclubs.

“He signed with the Braves, went to Class C ball and hit about .350. He ended the season and actually came up to the big leagues and had a base hit. A little over one year after the top scout in baseball told him he wasn’t even a professional prospect, he got his first hit in the big leagues.”

Joe Torre hit .297 with 252 homers and 1,185 RBIs in 2,209 major league games from 1960 to 1977 for the Braves, Cardinals and Mets. A nine-time all-star, he was the National League’s MVP after hitting a league-best .363 in 1971.

Without some brotherly guidance, Joe Torre’s career might have been much different.

“My brother was very tough on me,” Joe Torre said. “I really didn’t have a father. He sort of motivated me and did it from the tough love aspect of it. I didn’t realize how much I loved him until I grew up and understood what he was doing.”

Frank Torre was a member of the inaugural AAABA Hall of Fame Class of 1994, and Joe Torre is a lock to be honored in Johnstown after his career concludes.

Of greater significance, Joe Torre’s name was placed on the latest Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for Veterans Committee voters on Tuesday. The thought of being eligible for entrance in the Cooperstown, N.Y., shrine humbled Torre.

“That sort of came out of left field,” said Torre, who had 2,147 career wins as a manager through Friday. “While I’m managing I didn’t think I was eligible for anything. Then all of a sudden you find out they can vote for the combination of your playing and managing career. It becomes exciting all of a sudden.”

In his 27th season as a manager, Torre has a major-league best 76 postseason victories. He led the New York Yankees to 12 straight playoff appearances, including four World Series championships.

In his first season with the Dodgers, Torre has Los Angeles in first place in the NL West after winning 15 of 19 games through Friday.

“It’s been a roller coaster but I guess I can say that about every year that I’ve managed,” Torre said. “There’s always a lot of potholes along the way. The only difference this year is it’s been a new place.”

The acquisitions of Casey Blake from Cleveland, Greg Maddux from San Diego and Manny Ramirez from Boston played a significant role in Los Angeles’ closing in on a division title.

“The players came together,” Torre said. “The two additions, Casey Blake and Manny, have been tremendously important for us. The recent addition of Greg Maddux, not only has he helped the pitchers, but he’s so generous with his opinion and helping the players. Right now we’re playing as a unit. Hopefully, we can continue to get this thing done.”

As Torre first revealed five decades ago in Johnstown, he’s certainly capable of adapting to the situation.

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