HOF Profile: Tony La Russa

tony_la_russaTony La Russa would begin his career as a player much like the rest of the managers who have had some success in the MLB. Unlike his fellow hall of famer, Joe Torre, La Russa would never see the major league success that some managers did as he would only enjoy a 10-year career and would never see any accolades come his way. The end of his playing career was not the end of his time in baseball. He would move on to managing, even though it wasn’t his first choice, and would bring an attitude that would make him one of the most successful managers in baseball. Many managers take an attitude into their teams that they know best and that they can make something out of nothing. They believe that despite the players on their team if they can plug in players to their system and their style of play it didn’t matter the talent that they ha on their team. Sometimes that might work but generally only because talent comes up from the minors to fill the holes that are in the current lineup. More often than not that attitude of a manager leads to failure, especially on teams lacking the true level of talent needed to compete. For La Russa it was more about letting his players play and putting them in the best position to make a team successful. His attitude while he was managing was to let the players play and work around them. It was not the most common attitudes at the time as La Russa was one of the few player’s managers in the game. Instead of barking orders La Russa would pay attention to what the players needed. That attitude on the bench would create plenty of success as La Russa would be one of the favourite managers of players and when a manager can get the team to play for him it will mean success every time, which is exactly what La Russa would see as the manager.

There was not a lot to say about La Russa’s playing career and after playing his plans were to become a lawyer. Being a manager wouldn’t come into his mind until he became a player/coach in the White Sox system and fell in love with the job. Always a studious player La Russa’s passion to learn and watch players translated well to the bench and he would rise through the ranks quickly. After managing in Double and Triple-A through the 1978 and 1979 seasons. Eventually he would find his way to the MLB at the end of 1979 becoming the youngest manager in the MLB at 35 years old. While with the White Sox La Russa would help the team to build some success. He would help them to a .500 record in his first few months of managing the big club and helped them to become contenders during his time in Chicago. In 1983 La Russa oversaw one of the best seasons the White Sox had seen in a long time winning 99 games and the division title. His time did not last in Chicago though as his success never reached the same level in the city. He would move on to Oakland where once again he would take a struggling team into the playoffs and to the World Series in 1988. After turning around two teams La Russa then went to the city where he made his name as one of the best in the history of the MLB. In 1997 La Russa was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals where he would help the team to become one of the most consistent teams in the MLB. They would make the playoffs from 2000-02 and would constantly be contenders solidifying his spot in the Hall of Fame which he will enter this year in one of the best managing group ever.

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