At the 2013 Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla., a very important announcement was made. Retired manager Tony La Russa, most recently of the St. Louis Cardinals, joined contemporaries Joe Torre and Bobby Cox as unanimous selections of the Expansion Era Committee to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
Joining the Cardinals prior to the 1996 season, La Russa guided the club to a franchise-record 1,408 wins until his 2011 retirement. He led the Cardinals to eight division titles (1996, 2000-02, 2004-06 and 2009), three National League pennants (2004, 2006 and 2011) and two World Championships (2006 and 2011).
Under La Russa, the Cardinals finished above .500 in 13 of 16 seasons. They recorded 105 wins in 2004 and 100 wins in 2005, making La Russa just the second Cardinals manager to oversee two 100-win seasons. In his final season, La Russa became only the second manager to win two World Championships with the Cardinals, joining Billy Southworth (1942 and 1944).
Overall, La Russa managed in the majors for 33 years, starting with the Chicago White Sox in 1979, then moved to the Oakland A’s in 1986, where he experienced his first world title. La Russa and Sparky Anderson are the only managers to have led both a National and American League team to World Series victories. La Russa retired ranked third on the MLB all-time games-managed list with 2,728 and is now chief baseball officer of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The now-70-year-old was inducted on July 27 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. La Russa had requested the cap on his plaque be without logo, out of respect to all of his prior employers.
Friend and colleague Rob Rains posted the entire text of La Russa’s acceptance speech at StLSportsPage.com.
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