Tony La Russa, who managed the Oakland Athletics for 10 seasons from 1986-95, was unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday by the Hall’s expansion era committee.
La Russa was hired by the A’s on July 7, 1986, less than a month after he was fired by the Chicago White Sox, and the turnaround was almost instantaneous. Jackie Moore had been fired on June 25 after the A’s started 29-44 and the team had stumbled to a 2-8 record under interim manager Jeff Newman.
La Russa came aboard and the A’s finished 45-34 the rest of the way.
The best was yet to come.
After getting Oakland back to the .500 mark at 81-81 in 1987, the A’s won 306 games over the next three seasons, capturing consecutive American League pennants. Oakland’s most recent World Series championship came under La Russa in 1989, when the A’s swept the Giants in the Series famously interrupted by the Loma Prieta earthquake. Oakland lost the World Series in five games to the Dodgers in 1988 and was swept by Cincinnati in 1990.
Oakland also won the American League West under La Russa in 1992, but lost the American League Championship Series to Toronto in six games.
In 10 seasons, the A’s were 798-673 under La Russa, and he was the American League Manager of the Year in both 1988 and 1992.
Prior to coming to the A’s, La Russa was 522-510 in parts of eight seasons with the White Sox, winning the AL West title in 1983. He enjoyed his longest tenure, 16 years, with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1996-2011, winning seven division titles and making two additional playoff appearances as a wild card. The Cardinals won three National League pennants and two World Series titles.
He was 2,728-2,365 in a 33-year career—the most wins by any manager since World War II.
La Russa also played for parts of six seasons in the majors during a 16-year playing career after he was signed as an amateur free agent by the Kansas City A’s in June 1962. He played 34 games with Kansas City in 1963 and made brief appearances with the A’s in Oakland in 1968-71, also playing for the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs. He retired after he was released from the minors in 1977 with a career slash line of .199/.292/.250 in 132 games and 176 plate appearances with no home runs and seven RBi.
Cox had two stints as manager of the Braves, from 1978-81 and again from 1990-2010, and he managed the Blue Jays from 1982-85. The Braves won five pennants and one World Series title during his second stint, while winning a record 14 consecutive division titles.
Torre managed the Mets from 1977-81, the Braves from 1982-84, the Cardinals from 1990-95 and the Dodgers from 2008-10, but it was his stint with the New York Yankees from 1996-07 that got him into the Hall. He won six pennants and four World Series titles in 12 seasons in the Bronx, making the postseason every season.
Torre also put together a very good resume as a player, hitting .297/.365/.452 in 18 years with the Braves, Cardinals and Mets from 1960-77, hitting 252 career homers with 1,185 RBI, winning Most Valuable Player honors in the National League with St. Louis in 1971 and he was selected to nine All-Star Games. He never got close to enough votes for induction as a player, topping out at 22.2 percent in 1997, his final year on the writers’ ballot.
La Russa, Cox and Torre will be inducted on July 27. The writers’ votes will be announced next month.