Snapshots from Joe Torre’s Safe at Home Dinner

I took the L train over to Chelsea Piers yesterday afternoon, getting there well ahead of the 4:30 p.m. check-in time. So like any responsible reporter, I hit the batting cages there. I mean, why not? Proud to say there wasn’t one swing and miss. A few gappers too.

Once the red carpet availability started, it was amazing to watch the speed that Joe Torre worked the line, giving one TV interview after another. By speed, I mean it was probably glacial. Writers were at the end of the line and there was some concern that Torre would be all talked out. Then someone remembered – this is Joe Torre, king of the 40-minute pregame press conference.

No worries. Torre said that he was extremely pleased for the Yankees and Joe Girardi, while a little relieved he didn’t have to root for Derek Jeter to make a World Series out against his Dodgers.

“To watch what they’ve done with Joe Girardi at the helm really made me feel good, even though I’m supposed to be a National League fan and all that stuff,” Torre said. “When you’re as close to these guys as I’ve been for all these years, I was just really pleased for them.”

Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera represented the ’09 Yankees. Paul Simon was to provide musical entertainment, Mike Francesa and Chris Russo mugged on the red carpet, and when James Lipton walked by a few feet away I replayed every single Will Ferrell SNL skit in my mind.

It also seemed like most of the cast from ‘The Sopranos‘ was there … hey, look, it’s Dr. Melfi! I somehow resisted the urge to tell Michael Imperioli how upset I was when ABC cancelled the 1973-era time-travel cop show ‘Life on Mars.’ What a horrible, horrible finale they forced upon that show – the old, ‘Surprise! It was just a dream!’ ending.

The best scene was when a fan pushed through, asking Jeter for a picture. Jeter grabbed the young man’s camera and took a picture of him, then calmly handed the camera back with a smile. Something tells me he’s pulled that trick before. 

Anyway, that was my view from three feet off the red carpet against a metal barricade. Torre’s Safe at Home Dinner is going seven years strong now, and the event remains as popular as ever. Even though the manager’s office is now in Los Angeles, Torre intends to keep his roots in New York.

“We hope we can continue in L.A., but we can’t leave here,” Torre said. “We started something here and we feel it’s very important. We’re making some headway.”

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