When the Yankees' coaches congratulated him after Sunday's 8-5 victory over the Texas Rangers, manager Joe Torre tried to play down what he had just done.
"How about another 1,000?" one of the coaches said. Then Torre laughed. "No, no, no," he said.
Torre's road to 1,000 Yankees victories has been glorious at times, with six pennants and four World Series titles. But even with the talent that George Steinbrenner, the principal owner, has given him, it has not always been easy.
"It's unbelievable; I don't care how much talent he's had," said Larry Bowa, the Yankees' third-base coach, who has 418 victories as a manager.
"It's a milestone not too many people achieve. You've got to be good, you've got to be liked, you've got to be respected. Joe's all that. You've got to think of him as a Hall of Fame manager."
Torre became the fourth Yankees manager to reach 1,000, joining Joe McCarthy (1,460), Casey Stengel (1,149) and Miller Huggins (1,067). Catcher Kelly Stinnett gave him the game ball, and Torre said he would save the lineup card.
"It's pretty incredible when you figure the company you're in," Torre said. "I've always said to myself that all these things, I'll look back on and really appreciate. But 1,000 is a lot of wins, especially when you sign a two-year contract back in '96 and think about what's happened since then. The Yankee history book is a special place to be."
Torre's last five victories have come in succession, with the Yankees sweeping two series on this trip, at Tampa Bay and at Texas. They lead the American League East with an 18-11 record and face the Boston Red Sox, who are 19-12, at Yankee Stadium today.
Steinbrenner will be there, at least for part of the series, and he seems to be in a buoyant mood.
"I'm very proud of Joe," Steinbrenner said in a statement through his spokesman, Howard Rubenstein. "He's making the right managerial moves. He knows how to lead the team and he's providing great leadership."
Rubenstein said that Steinbrenner and Randy Levine, the team president, tried to call Torre after Sunday's game but could not reach him. Another call is forthcoming. "They want to talk to him and congratulate him," Rubenstein said.
Torre could have thanked Hideki Matsui for the victory. Matsui reached base five times, with a single, a three-run homer and three walks. Torre used Matsui as the designated hitter because he said he thought Matsui looked tired on Saturday.
"Actually, I wasn't really tired," Matsui said through an interpreter. "But looking at the results, I guess the DH spot fared pretty well today."
After Alex Rodriguez led off the second inning with an infield single, Matsui singled to right. Rodriguez scored the game's first run on a groundout by Bernie Williams, who was 9 for 22 on the trip.
With the score tied, 1-1, in the fourth, Matsui came up against Robinson Tejeda with no outs and two runners on. Tejeda left a first-pitch fastball up in the strike zone, and Matsui blasted it off the wall behind the Rangers' bullpen in right-center field, 415 feet from the plate.
The Yankees led by 4-1, and three singles in the inning led to two more runs. The Yankees would need all those runs, despite a solid start from Taiwan's Wang Chien-ming (王建民, 2-1), who allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings.
Robinson Tejeda (1-1) allowed six runs and six hits in three-plus innings. The Rangers have lost their last eight games against the Yankees.