LOS ANGELES -- John Wooden wasn't quite gone yet when the subject turned to the Coach in the Dodgers' dugout pre-game here Friday. Manager Joe Torre immediately softened, and I could swear his eyes moistened just a bit.
Torre met the legendary UCLA coach several years ago, when he was managing the Yankees and Wooden was well enough to travel to Angel Stadium for the meeting. Torre fondly recalled that moment Friday, speaking of how he's carried a piece of Wooden -- like so many others -- in his own work.
"His philosophy, I've used many times in trying to get points across and make decisions," Torre said. "Him being a big baseball fan, I didn't know that."
They talked about it, though -- and about other things -- over a lunch that lasted, according to Torre, four or five hours.
"To me, it was a great time when you have the opportunity to share some time with him," said Torre, who always enjoyed how much Wooden respected Derek Jeter.
Torre said Wooden phoned "when I decided to change jobs", and spoke in near awe of moments when Wooden would phone him.
"One time I was driving around with my wife and the phone rang and it was him," Torre said. "It always startles me, because he's such an enormous person."
Between them, Wooden and Torre have won 14 titles: Wooden led UCLA to 10 NCAA basketball championships, and Torre managed the New York Yankees to four World Series victories.