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For Torre, choosing No. 6 was a 'scientific' process

08/23/2014 5:36 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Joe Torre had his No. 6 retired prior to Saturday's game.(AP)
On the day his No. 6 was retired by the New York Yankees and enshrined in Monument Park forever, Joe Torre glanced toward the Yankees dugout, looking for Derek Jeter.

When Torre found The Captain, he laughed, and in a fatherly way said "there's only one single-digit left out there, and it's you."

Those two men have been and always will be significantly linked for their roles in Yankees lore, and sometime in the very, very near future, there won't be any single-digits left when Jeter's No. 2 joins Torre and the eight others who wore Nos. 1-9 well enough to have them retired in Monument Park.

But, as Torre tells it, Jeter's 1995 cameo had very little if anything to do with how those final two numbers will be sent to their final immortality.

"When I came here in 1996, I knew I wanted a single-digit number. I had been wearing No. 9, and I wanted to stay in single-digits," Torre recalled Saturday. "I knew a lot of them had been retired, but I wasn't sure how many they had left."

The No. 9 Torre had worn for the second half of his playing career and his entire managerial career was long-retired, as was the No. 15 he had worn while playing for the Braves - so to get his wish, Torre was going to have to make a decision between No. 2 and No. 6.

For this one, flipping a coin or picking out of a hat simply wasn't an option.

"Jeter had worn No. 2 in 1995 but he wasn't established yet, so they offered me either one," he said. "I called my wife Ali and told her it was 2 or 6, and she said to me, 'it's like my grandmother always said: sometimes you have to turn your chair around in a card game.' I had been wearing No. 9, so we turned that around and made it No. 6. It was that scientific."

That's how Torre became No. 6 and kept Jeter No. 2, and the rest, as they say, is history.

And, if the Yankees' planned celebration for Derek Jeter on Sept. 7 is even exactly the same as their day to honor Mariano Rivera last September, then Jeter's No. 2 will meet its final enshrinement right next to Torre's No. 6, and just two down from Rivera's No. 42, in a couple weeks.

The way, Torre says, it should be for a special manager and perhaps his most special player.

"Derek, right from the get-go, you made what we were doing like a family endeavor," Torre had said during his on-field speech Saturday afternoon. "It's a short distance from the old Stadium to here, but it's a long, long way from the field to Monument Park, and I was blessed to make that journey on the shoulders of some very special players…and you're a special young man."

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