Tony La Russa managed the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and the St. Louis Cardinals to six League Championships and three World Series wins. Among all major league managers, he ranks third in total wins, behind Connie Mack and John McGraw. The cornerstone for his success was the knowledge acquired during 50 years of baseball graduate school. A great example was working with A’s General Manager Sandy Alderson and Pitching Coach Dave Duncan, where they revolutionized baseball. La Russa’s were the first to use a closer, who was bought in only at the start of the ninth inning with a lead. Dennis Eckersley, who had been an excellent starter earlier in his career, was overpowering in his new role, winning both the American League’s Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award in 1992. La Russa also had pitchers who were designated to work the seventh and eighth innings and pitchers who were bought in to pitch to one batter. The A’s were also the first team to make extensive use of videos in scouting other teams. They also featured the “tough at bat/winning” philosophy by hitters to drive up the pitch count of opposing starters and be productive in game situations. His 1988-90 teams had great players, including such diverse ones as Jose Canseco, Ricky Henderson and Dave Stewart. All had personalities which demanded special handling, but La Russa was able to do that without disturbing team harmony. Consequently each player and their teammates made big contributions to the A’s success in that period. Tony La Russa was truly a manager for all seasons.
Inducted into the BAY AREA SPORTS HALL OF FAME – 2014
Narrative by Glenn Dickey