"It's what I wanted to do all along," Mazzilli said. "Managing is the closest you can get to playing as far as feeling that competitiveness again. That appealed to me."
After three winning seasons as a minor league manager in Tampa, Fla., and Norwich, Conn., Mazzilli joined Torre's staff for the 2000 season as first-base coach and outfield instructor.
The Orioles made him their 15th manager nine days ago.
"It's very humbling," he said. "My three greatest thrills in baseball were getting called up to the majors for the first time, hitting a home run in the All-Star Game and winning a world championship. But this beats all that. This is by far my greatest achievement."
His many vocations should help him, he said. "You have to manage people, and I have been in countless different situations," he said. "I like to think I have learned something about dealing with people."
But he doesn't want anyone thinking that defines managing.
"It's a baseball job. You have to know the game, most of all, and excel in that," he said.
He still relishes his time with his family.
"I can sit at home for four or five days in a row, be with the kids, play with the dog," he said. "I don't have to go out to dinner, be seen. I don't need that. I love picking up the kids from school, watching their basketball and football games. My oldest [age 15] is a cheerleader now. I went to watch her the other night and it was 32 degrees out. I said, `You know how much Daddy loves you now.'"
His New York roots remain strong. On Wednesday night, he attended a gala fund-raiser for Torre's Safe at Home Foundation. Billy Crystal was the emcee.
"Billy is a friend. I'm lucky: Baseball has opened a lot of doors for me as far as meeting people and getting a chance to do things," Mazzilli said. "But managing in the major leagues is what I always wanted to do. I love the responsibility. You're in charge of 25 guys, trying to develop a world champion."
Some Baltimore fans might dislike the fact he is an ex-Yankee, but his New York supporters are rooting for him.
"I'm biased, but I love the hire," said his friend, Bodie. "Lee is very energetic, very enthusiastic, very positive. ... He's going to be tremendous in his rapport with the players. There are no hidden agendas. What you see is what you get. You can forget the New York thing. His aspiration will be to beat the pants off the Yankees next year."