NEW YORK – Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella stood together behind the podium, a trio of retiring managers honored for a combined 81 years leading major league clubs.
"Played the game for 16 years and then had an opportunity to manager five different ballclubs, very special teams," Torre said. "But you know when you managed five teams that means you've been fired a few times."
The hotel ballroom audience laughed. The three were presented the Willie, Mickey and the Duke Award from the Baseball Writers' Association of America's New York chapter on Saturday night, introduced by Yankees manager Joe Girardi to cap the annual dinner.
Torre and Piniella thanked late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, Torre for letting him manage New York for 12 seasons, Piniella for being given his start as a manager.
Cox singled out former Braves pitchers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz 'for allowing me to keep working."
Cox finished fourth in career regular-season wins with 2,504, Torre fifth with 2,326 and Piniella 14th with 1,835.
"I would run out of times if I had to talk about all the times that Bobby — and really you two — had been ejected from games," Girardi joked.
Cox was ejected a record 158 times and also was tossed three times in the postseason.
Barry Larkin, the 1995 NL MVP for the Cincinnati Reds, presented the NL MVP Award to the Reds' Joey Votto. After getting 31 of 32 first-place votes, Votto playfully thanked Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who gave the Cardinals' Albert Pujols his first-place vote.
"As if Albert Pujols doesn't have enough MVP Awards," Votto said.
Pujols won in 2005, 2008 and 2009.
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner accepted the Joan Payson Award for community service on behalf of his late father, who died in July at age 80.
"While there will be no replacing him, we will continue to follow the path he left by enriching the lives of people and the organizations within our community," Hal Steinbrenner said.
In accepting the AL Cy Young Award, Seattle's Felix Hernandez thanked chief executive Howard Lincoln, team president Chuck Armstrong, general manager Jack Zduriencik, "all the managers — there have been a lot" and "all the pitching coaches — a lot, too."
NL Manager of the Year Bud Black thanked his wife and two daughters, saying that after games they "are always quick to add: 'Why didn't you bring in (Luke) Gregerson, (Mike) Adams and (Heath) Bell tonight?"
AL Manager of the Year Ron Gardenhire talked about bringing his family with him for the weekend.
"To share an actually really nice time in New York is a wonderful thing because, as you know, during the baseball season I haven't been able to do that very often," said Gardenhire, whose Minnesota Twins were eliminated by the Yankees in the playoffs for the fourth time in eight years.
Also picking up honors were AL MVP Josh Hamilton, NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, AL Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz and NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey.
Retired general manager Pat Gillick, elected to the Hall of Fame last month by the Veterans Committee, thanked all the ownerships he worked for and singled out Toronto, Seattle and Philadelphia. But he omitted Baltimore.