Tampa native Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre — three of baseball’s most decorated managers — were unanimously selected Monday for induction to the Hall of Fame.
La Russa ranks third on the list of all-time managerial victories, trailing only Connie Mack and John McGraw. Cox is fourth and Torre fifth.
La Russa won 2,728 games with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals. He won championships with the A’s in 1989 and the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011.
He is a proud graduate of Tampa Catholic High School, the University of South Florida and Florida State University where he earned a law degree in 1980. By the way he passed the Florida Bar but has done very little work as a lawyer. La Russa was a baseball guy, someone who would rather ride the buses as a minor league manager than be seen in a courtroom as a lawyer.
La Russa is known a one of the smartest men ever to manage in Major League Baseball. He treated the game as a grand master would playing chess. Few men have success managing in two different cities but La Russa did it in THREE cities, Chicago, Oakland and of course St. Louis.
He got his first break as a manager in the big leagues came in 1979 when he was named skipper of the Chicago White Sox taking over in mid season from Don Kessinger. La Russa was named American League Manager of the Year in 1983, when his club won the AL West but fell to the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series.
After being fired by Chicago in 1986 he moved on to take the job as manager of the Oakland A’s where the the legend began. In his nine years as the A’s skipper La Russa guided Oakland to three straight from 1988 to 1990. He won two and lost one.
His final stop came in St. Louis where from 1996 to 2011 he was the Cardinals field general. He won the National League Central Division title in his first year, something he repeated in 2000, 2001, 2002. He won four Manager of the Year award, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2009. Last season the Cardinals paid him the greatest honor he could wished for by retiring his number 10 jersey.
He won the World Series in 2011 then he thought it was time to step aside and get out of baseball.
Now at the age of 69 he will have a chance to explore his many interests. He is a great cook, loves to travel and is big classic rock music fan. While he still has a vacation home in Sarasota, but he spends most of his time these days at his home in the San Francisco suburb of Alamo, California.