Tampa Plays Big Part In La Russa’s HOF Career

Tampa Upbringing Huge To Tony La Russa’s Career

Tony_La_russa Today’s induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame will cap La Russa’s illustrious career, a fitting — if still somewhat personally uncomfortable — reward for his remarkable accomplishments.

He won 2,728 games was a big-league skipper, third most all time, and won three World Series championships during his 33 years managing the White Sox, A’s and Cardinals.

His success is celebrated and shared by the three cities — so much so that his plaque will be unveiled today with a logo-less cap since he couldn’t pick or have all three — but it was deeply rooted in one place, Tampa.

“A great deal,” La Russa said. “The dominant sport to the point of being a religion was baseball — especially with my Italian and Spanish background. Baseball was by far the sport that we were exposed to the most. … So very aware that I had a special opportunity to play baseball, get to love it early.”

He was born and raised in Tampa, cultivated that love of the game there, developed his talent, formed some of his core philosophies, played his way into pro ball there, met his first wife there, and even earned a law degree at FSU when his playing career was lagging.

For more on this story, visit Mark Topkin (Tampa Bay Times).