Mazzone’s relationship with the Braves’ current manager dates back to 1978 when Snitker was a backup catcher for a co-op team managed by Mazzone in Kinston, N.C. Fast forward to 1982, when both of these men had been hired by Hank Aaron to serve as coaches in the Braves’ organization.
“Hank said he hired a young manager named Brian Snitker in Durham,” Mazzone said. “He said, ‘Why don’t you go up there and teach him how to handle a pitching staff?’ Well, I was there about a month and I called Hank and told him I don’t need to teach him how to handle a pitching staff, he already knows how to do it.”
Mazzone and Torre both expressed appreciation for Aaron before being inducted with the late Joe Adcock into the team’s Hall of Fame. Torre earned five All-Star selections while he was Aaron’s teammate from 1960-68.
“This is where my whole career started with this great organization when I signed a contract in 1959,” Torre said. “It was just a treasure to spend eight years with Hank Aaron. It was like going through school all over again and becoming a whole lot smarter.”
Torre’s induction into Baseball’s Hall of Fame was primarily a product of winning four World Series titles from 1996-2000 as the Yankees’ manager. But some of his earliest great memories as a big league manager came when he skippered the 1982 Braves, who started the season 13-0 and won the National League West.
Snitker was just 27 years old when he got his first managerial job within the Braves’ system. He was invited to big league Spring Training on an annual basis during Torre’s three-season stint (1982-84) as Atlanta’s manager.
When Snitker finally got his first big league managerial job in 2016, Torre was serving as MLB’s head of on-field operations. His role called for him to occasionally scold or counsel managers for things that might have happened during games.
“He’d call and chastise you a little bit every now and then,” Snitker said. “But it was always nice to have guys like him and Bobby [Cox] to talk to and get advice.”
Torre hit .294 with 142 home runs and a .818 OPS during his nine seasons with the Braves. When it comes to the greatest catchers in franchise history, the top two are Torre and Brian McCann, who will likely be part of the next class inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.
During his 10 seasons with the Braves, Adcock hit .285 with 239 homers and a .855 OPS, which ranks 10th among all players who have tallied at least 3,000 plate appearances for the franchise.
Mazzone served as Atlanta’s pitching coach from 1990-2005. His Hall of Fame credentials are seen through the pitching greatness that helped the Braves win 14 consecutive division titles from 1991-2005. Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz combined to win six Cy Young Awards under his tutelage.
“The Atlanta Braves provided me with 15 years of the greatest time of my life,” Mazzone said. “I consider this to be a tremendous honor.”