The induction ceremony is slated to begin at 12:30pm CT this afternoon and it will become official, Tony La Russa will no longer just “be in the conversation”, he will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
“I convinced myself it wasn’t going to happen,” said La Russa at the Winter Warm-Up earlier this year on the topic of being elected in his first year of eligiblity. “I had retired after Joe and Bobby–and first ballot, you prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I just thought it wasn’t going to happen, so I was stunned. It still seems unreal.”
Professing a belief that the Hall of Fame was for great players who had distinguished themselves and the “ambassadors for baseball” like Sparky Anderson, Whitey Herzog, and Earl Weaver, La Russa slowly began to acknowledge that his resume was putting him on the same path as those he looked up to.
“Wherever they were, they lit the place up on and off the field,” said La Russa. “I never felt like I had that type of personality. I think when we won in ’06–and all of a sudden you realize you’re in that one club with Sparky for having a championship in each league then you think it may be hard to avoid it.”
“I still have the same opinion–not really comfortable and the biggest reason is, and nobody can convince me otherwise, I never felt that good fortune was a Hall of Fame criteria. And I said that referring to Kelly and Leyland. If they had been the three places I was, they’d probably have more–these guys were really good. But I’ve been lucky enough to be in Chicago, Oakland, and St. Louis. When they’ve been in good situations, they’ve won but they’ve had some times where it was hard. So, why do I benefit from that? Lucky. I’m not turning it back, though.”
His sixteen seasons in St. Louis saw dramatic change, challenge, tragedy, and triumph–all of which La Russa reflected upon during the same above conversation.
Tony La Russa
Major League Manager 33 years
2728 Wins – 2365 Losses
6 pennants, 3 World Series titles
70 post-season victories
4x Manager of the Year
photo credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports