SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays, four-time World Series winner Joe Torre and boxing champion Sergio Martinez were honored Thursday for their years of work helping to stop domestic violence.

“I’m standing up in front of perfect strangers crying my eyes out,” Torre said.

But not after one of his World Series Championships with the Yankees. Instead he recounted the emotions he finally let go of some years ago after a childhood in a house in which his father regularly beat his mother.

KCBS’ Tim Ryan Reports:

“He never physically abused me, but he left me a lot of scars that I carried a lot of fear into my adult life,” Torre said.

The Safe at Home Foundation Torre founded a decade ago helps children who witness domestic violence realize they are not alone.

“Growing up, I thought I was the only, we were the only, family in town experiencing this, and I never shared it with any of my friends,” he said.

Martinez spoke through an interpreter about his early years in Argentina and how he was constantly bullied.

The honoring ceremony at the Presidio was part of a daylong summit that drew participants from around the nation who recognized the power sports figures have as role models.

“The goal of the program is to work with athletic coaches, too, and engage them in a way that enables them to teach their young athletes that violence against women is wrong,” said Brian O’Connor with the organization Futures Without Violence.

“Young athletes in high schools and middle schools around the country, they’re the popular kids. They’re the role models. They’re the other kids that their peers look up to,” he said.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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