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Torre in 15th year of aiding victims of abuse

Safe at Home Foundation holds annual golf and tennis fundraiser
MLB.com

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- There was a lot of reminiscing on Thursday at Sleepy Hollow Country Club, the home golf course of Commissioner Rob Manfred. Jorge Posada, for example, said he sees the same "grinding at-bats" and "hunger" in this young Yankees team that were signature traits of his teammates' heyday in the '90s. There were stories aplenty about Tim Raines, in light of his Hall of Fame induction that will take place this Sunday in Cooperstown.

But what mattered most on this overcast afternoon at the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation 2017 Golf and Tennis Classic was the future, and specifically that of the countless children who live in homes of domestic violence. Torre, the Hall of Fame manager and chief baseball officer at Major League Baseball, hosted a long list of celebrities for this key annual fundraiser. This marks the 15th anniversary of the foundation that he and wife Ali started in response to the impact that domestic violence had on him and his family, and Torre said many people today actually know him more for this deeply involved side of his life.

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- There was a lot of reminiscing on Thursday at Sleepy Hollow Country Club, the home golf course of Commissioner Rob Manfred. Jorge Posada, for example, said he sees the same "grinding at-bats" and "hunger" in this young Yankees team that were signature traits of his teammates' heyday in the '90s. There were stories aplenty about Tim Raines, in light of his Hall of Fame induction that will take place this Sunday in Cooperstown.

But what mattered most on this overcast afternoon at the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation 2017 Golf and Tennis Classic was the future, and specifically that of the countless children who live in homes of domestic violence. Torre, the Hall of Fame manager and chief baseball officer at Major League Baseball, hosted a long list of celebrities for this key annual fundraiser. This marks the 15th anniversary of the foundation that he and wife Ali started in response to the impact that domestic violence had on him and his family, and Torre said many people today actually know him more for this deeply involved side of his life.

"More and more people are knowing what I do in that regard," Torre said before PGA pro Len Mattiace hit the ceremonial first tee shot. "I've had so many people come up to me and say, 'I'm not really a baseball fan, but I love what you do.' A lot of it is still in the shadows, domestic violence. Nobody wants to talk about it, because they really don't know what to do about it. That's why we feel it's so important that we can help kids who are in the same boat I was.

"I was lucky -- I had a chance to play baseball, I had a place to hide. These kids don't necessarily have that. It's something that doesn't go away. I can tell you that it affects me every day. Twenty years ago, when I was able to connect the dots, I realized that I want to talk about it now. It's sort of understanding what's going on in your life that helps you deal with it. That's what we do in Margaret's Place. We give these kids tools to deal with it. It's certainly a complicated issue, but it's an epidemic in our country that we need to address. We can't hide from it any longer."

Two out of three children are exposed to trauma and violence in their home, according to Yolanda Jimenez, executive director of the Safe at Home Foundation. She said the organization now fields frequent requests from school districts all over the United States, each interested in a Margaret's Place room for their own schools. Those rooms are named for Torre's mother, who was abused by Torre's father during Joe's youth. Margaret's Place provides a "safe room" in schools staffed by a full-time Master's-level counselor who provides both individual and group counseling sessions.

It is an exciting year for the Safe at Home Foundation, as it is opening four additional sites -- two in New York, another in Los Angeles and a new one in Cincinnati. That is Ali Torre's hometown.

"Our goal is really to reach as many students as possible, and Cincinnati will be our third replication in a city where we are actually working with Cincinnati Public Schools and introducing the program there," said Ali Torre. "We're going into an elementary through high school program, so we'll be expanding our program and reaching children who are a little bit younger, which is exciting. A lot of families in this country are suffering, and we're just trying to do our part and make a difference there."

Manfred is thankful to Joe Torre for his contributions in the area of domestic violence, noting the foundation's leading influence on MLB's cutting-edge policy in this area.

"Joe has been extraordinarily helpful to the league in terms of developing our domestic violence policy, dealing with the various advocacy groups," Manfred said. "It's always helpful that his is one of the most respect groups out there, so he's been invaluable to us on this topic."

Torre said he went through his whole childhood thinking his family's situation was unique.

"It was just something that my dad was bringing to the home," he said. "Once I found out, I wanted to talk about it, and we started our foundation. It's been a revelation for me. We've reached better than 70,000 kids with our Margaret's Places, and we know what we do works, and I'm proud of it."

Some of the guests also included former Yankees Tino Martinez, David Cone, Willie Randolph, Rick Cerone and John Flaherty; former managers Tony La Russa and Jim Leyland; boxing legend Gerry Cooney; former Knicks star John Starks, Mets legend Rusty Staub; and MLB Network analyst and former pitcher Dan Plesac. Dan Boever, a former Minor Leaguer and long-drive world champion, entertained the group with a trick-shot show before the start.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Follow him @Marathoner and read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub.