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Tony La Russa
Tony La Russa.jpg
Date of birth: October 4, 1944 (1944-10-04) (age 76)
Place of birth: U.S Flag.png Tampa, Florida
Managing Debut
1979 for the Chicago White Sox
Last mangaing debut
2011 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career information
Record (W-L): 522-510
World Series titles: 3 (1989, 2006, 2011)
Career: 1979-2011
Career highlights and awards
  • 3× World Series champion (1989, 2006, 2011)
Tony La Russa
Second baseman/Shortstop
Birth date: October 4, 1944 (1944-10-04) (age 76)
Place of birth: U.S Flag.png Tampa, Florida
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB Debut
May 10, 1963 for the Kansas City Athletics
Last MLB apperance
April 6, 1973 for the Chicago Cubs
Career information
Career: 1963-1973
Career highlights and awards
  • 3× AL Manager of the Year (1983, 1988, 1992)
  • 2002 NL Manager of the Year

Anthony "Tony" La Russa, Jr. (born October 4, 1944 in Tampa, Florida) is a former American baseball Infielder and retired manager. In 2004 he became the sixth manager in history to win pennants with both American and National League teams; in 2006 he became the first manager ever to win multiple pennants in both leagues and became one of only two managers to win the World Series in both leagues. With a 2,477–2,153–3 (.535) record as a manager (through Apr. 30, 2009) , he is ranked third all-time for total number of Baseball All-time Managerial Wins list, trailing only Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763). He is also third all-time for games managed (4,633), trailing only the above two managers, with Mack leading at 7,755 (3,731–3,948–76), and McGraw at 4,769 (2,763–1,948-58). He is one of only four managers to be named Manager of the Year in both of baseball's major leagues.

La Russa has 1,157 wins and 970 losses (.544) with 1 tie [in 1998] as manager of the Cardinals since 1996, through April 30, 2009. He was 522–510–3 (.506) with the Chicago White Sox 1979–1986, and 798–673 (.542) with the Oakland Athletics 1986–1995.

His 2,000th game managing the Cardinals came on May 31, 2008 (in a loss to the Pirates), with a record of 1,088–911–1.

Some sources give La Russa two extra wins, however; Rene Lachemann is credited with two managerial wins for the Cardinals during the 1999 season while La Russa was hospitalized for an ulceration in his stomach lining.[1] [2] However, the baseball rules give the temporary acting manager no credit for the win (or loss) when standing in for the real manager because of absence due to illness, and La Russa correctly gets the credit for those two wins.

On August 22, 2007, he passed Bucky Harris to become the third-highest manager of all-time in total games managed in baseball history in his 4,409th game; behind only John McGraw (Mgr. 1899, 1901–1932 for 33 years; 4,769 games) and Connie Mack (Mgr. 1894–1896, 1901–1950 for 53 years; 7,755 games).

La Russa became the leader in wins by Cardinals' managers on August 31, 2007, when the Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Reds 8–5, passing Red Schoendienst (1,041–955) to take the title.


Playing career

La Russa was signed by the Kansas City Athletics as a middle infielder prior to the start of the 1962 season. He came up to the A's the next season, making his debut on May 10, 1963. In the following off-season he suffered a shoulder injury while playing softball with friends, and the shoulder continued to bother him during the remainder of his playing career.

Over the next six seasons, La Russa spent most of his time in the minor leagues, making it to the now-Oakland A's roster in 1968 and 1969. He spent the entire 1970 season with the big club, and then late in 1971 the A's traded him to the Atlanta Braves. His final big league playing stop was with the Chicago Cubs, where he appeared as a pinch runner in one game, on April 6, 1973. He also spent time in the organizations of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago White Sox, and St. Louis Cardinals.

In 132 total games played, (40 in the starting lineup), he went 35-for-176, a batting average of .199. His 23 walks pushed his on base percentage to .292. He had 7 RBI and scored 15 runs. He made 63 appearances at second base, 18 at shortstop, and two at third base, fielding .960 in 249 total chances and participating in 34 double plays.[3]

Managerial career

Before becoming a manager, he earned a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Florida State University, but never entered the legal profession. La Russa has been quoted as saying, "I decided I'd rather ride the buses in the minor leagues than practice law for a living." Shortly before graduating from FSU College of Law LaRussa spoke with one of his professors about his post-graduation plans, indicating to his professor that he had an opportunity to coach in the minor leagues and asking his professor what he should do. LaRussa's professor responded, "Grow up, you're an adult now, you're going to be a lawyer." He is one of a select number of major league managers in baseball history who have earned a law degree or passed a state bar exam; others include John Montgomery Ward (New York Giants, Brooklyn and Providence, late 1800s), Hughie Jennings (Detroit, 1907–20, New York Giants, 1924), Miller Huggins (St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees, 1913–29), Muddy Ruel (St. Louis Browns, 1947), Jack Hendricks (St. Louis Cardinals, 1918, Cincinnati, 1924–29) and Branch Rickey (St. Louis Browns, 1913–15, St. Louis Cardinals, 1919–25, later the creator of the modern farm system in baseball and still later the executive who broke the color line by signing Jackie Robinson), Jim O'Rourke and James Lyman Price.

Chicago White Sox

The White Sox gave La Russa his first managerial opportunity in 1978 by naming him skipper of their Double-A affiliate, the Knoxville Sox of the Southern League. La Russa spent only a half-season at Knoxville before being promoted to the White Sox coaching staff when owner Bill Veeck changed managers from Bob Lemon to Larry Doby. But Doby struggled in the managerial role and was fired at the end of the season; Don Kessinger, former star shortstop of the crosstown Cubs, was named the White Sox' player-manager for 1979, and La Russa was demoted to manager of the Triple-A Iowa Oaks of the American Association.

But Kessinger was not the answer, either. The ChiSox were only 46–60 when he was fired and La Russa was summoned from Iowa, two-thirds of the way through the 1979 season. The White Sox played .500 baseball for the rest of the '79 campaign, and La Russa's career was launched. He was named American League Manager of the Year in 1983, when his club won the AL West but fell to the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series. The White Sox fired La Russa after the club got off to a 26–38 start in 1986. He was fired by General Manager Ken 'Hawk' Harrelson, who had a disastrous one-year reign in the position, including moving future Hall-of-Fame Catcher Carlton Fisk to LF. Before becoming GM, the Hawk was the team's play-by-play man; he has been in that role since being fired fired as GM.

Oakland A's

La Russa had a vacation of less than three weeks before his old club, the Athletics, called him to take over as manager. He led the club to three consecutive World Series, from 1988 to 1990, sweeping an earthquake-delayed Series from the San Francisco Giants in 1989. In 1988 and 1990, La Russa's Athletics lost the World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds in significant fashion, despite the fact that the A's were heavily favored on both occasions. He earned two additional Manager of the Year awards with the A's, in 1988 and 1992, again winning the Western Division in the latter year. After the 1995 season, in which the A's finished 67–77, the Haas family, with whom La Russa had a close personal relationship, sold the team after the death of patriarch Walter A. Haas, Jr. La Russa left to take over for Joe Torre at the helm of the St. Louis Cardinals.

St. Louis Cardinals

In his first campaign with the Cardinals, in 1996, La Russa clinched the National League's Central Pennant (and also finished National League Runner-Up), a feat his club repeated in 2000, 2001, 2002 (his fourth Manager of the Year award), 2004, 2005, and 2006 (the Cardinals also tied for the National League Central crown with the Houston Astros in 2001). He became the first manager to win the award four times. La Russa's fourth Manager of the Year award was arguably the most emotional; La Russa led the Cardinals to the National League Championship Series (where they would ultimately lose in five games to the San Francisco Giants) in a year in which the Cardinals were traumatized by the deaths of beloved Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck and 33-year-old pitcher Darryl Kile just four days later.

In 2004, the Cardinals won the National League pennant, accruing a first place overall record of 105–57. After defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3 games to 1, in the National League Division Series, and the Houston Astros, 4 games to 3, in the NLCS, they were swept by the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 World Series. It was their first World Series appearance since 1987.

2006 saw a return to the World Series, this time with a 4–1 victory over the Detroit Tigers, managed by former Cardinal Jim Leyland. The team's 83–78 regular season record is the worst ever by an eventual World Series champion, usurping the 1987 Minnesota Twins' 85–77 campaign. La Russa is now the second manager to win a World Series in both the American League and the National League - a distinction shared with his mentor, Sparky Anderson.

It was as a player with the A's that La Russa first met catcher Dave Duncan, who would join his coaching staff in Chicago in 1983. The two have worked together on every La Russa-managed team ever since, and he often credits Duncan as playing a key role in his success.

On August 4, 2007 La Russa lined up his pitcher Joel Piñeiro to bat in the 8th spot. Previously in the 1998 season, from July 9 to September 27 used the same method with his rotation. La Russa continued to bat the pitcher 8th throughout the rest of the 2007 season. La Russa has argued that he wishes a position player to bat in the ninth spot so that "there are men on base" for Albert Pujols, who bats third.

On October 22, 2007, La Russa signed a two-year deal to remain with the St. Louis Cardinals as manager, which would extend his reign to a Cardinals' record 14 years.

Through 2008, La Russa's regular season managerial record is 2,461-2,146 (.534), including 1,141-963 (.542) with the Cardinals. He credits Paul Richards with first inspiring him to believe he could succeed as a major league manager. In 2009, he surpassed John McGraw for 2nd place on the list of total games managed and is 2nd onlky to Connie Mack. He hired Mark McGwire as a hitting coach for 2010.


On March 22, 2007 La Russa was arrested in Jupiter, Florida for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. He was found asleep at the wheel of his running SUV while at a green light. He did not initially respond to the police knocking on the window, even though he still had his foot on the brake. He was booked at the Palm Beach County Jail and blew a .093 blood alcohol content, which is above the legal limit of .08.[4]

Calling his arrest on the DUI charge an "embarrassment," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa apologized to "anyone who is close to me, members of the Cardinals organization, our fans." He was defended by the organization and players, such as Albert Pujols.

On November 28, 2007 La Russa pleaded guilty for DUI. La Russa said he had decided to plead guilty to the misdemeanor because it was in the best interest of all concerned.

"I accept full responsibility for my conduct, and assure everyone that I have learned a very valuable lesson and that this will never occur again," La Russa said in a statement released by his attorney, David Roth. La Russa did not appear in court to plead guilty

Personal life

La Russa and second wife Elaine are the founders of Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation, headquartered in Walnut Creek, California, which saves abandoned and injured animals as well as running programs to bring dog and cat visits to abused children, hospital patients, seniors and shut-ins. La Russa is also a vegetarian.[5] The La Russas have two daughters Bianca & Devon and reside in Alamo, California.

La Russa is also personal friends with celebrities outside the sports world, such as pianist and songwriter Bruce Hornsby, and jazz bassist Christian McBride. In 2007, at a concert in San Francisco on La Russa's birthday, Hornsby played a comedic song he named "Hooray For Tony". The original song, titled "Hooray For Tom," is La Russa's favorite Hornsby song. In the "Hooray For Tony" version, Hornsby mentions the "Bash Brothers" Mark McGwire and José Canseco (from La Russa's days as the manager of the Oakland A's), Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, ARF, and La Russa's World Series Championships.

La Russa has Italian and Hispanic ancestry, and speaks fluent Spanish.[6][7][8] He was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.[6] La Russa was also inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame on April 11, 2008 in a pregame ceremony at AT&T Park.[8]

La Russa has an uncredited extra role in the film Angels in the Outfield.

Managerial record

(through Apr. 30, 2009)

Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
Chicago White Sox 1979 27 27 .500 5th in AL West - - -
1980 70 90 .438 5th in AL West - - -
1981 31 22 .585 3rd in AL West - - -
23 30 .434 6th in AL West - - -
1982 87 75 .537 3rd in AL West - - -
1983 99 63 .611 1st in AL West 1 3 .250 Lost in ALCS, AL Mgr. of Year
1984 74 88 .457 5th in AL West - - -
1985 85 77 .525 3rd in AL West - - -
1986 26 38 .406 5th in AL West - - -
CWS total 522 510 .506 1 3 .250 1 postseason appearance
Oakland Athletics 1986 45 34 .570 3rd in AL West - - -
1987 81 81 .500 3rd in AL West - - -
1988 104 58 .642 1st in AL West 5 4 .556 Lost in World Series
1989 99 63 .611 1st in AL West 8 1 .889 Won in World Series
1990 103 59 .636 1st in AL West 4 4 .500 Lost in World Series
1991 84 78 .519 4th in AL West - - -
1992 96 66 .593 1st in AL West 2 4 .333 Lost in ALCS
1993 68 94 .420 7th in AL West - - -
1994 51 63 .447 2nd in AL West - - -
1995 67 77 .465 4th in AL West - - -
OAK total 798 673 .542 19 13 .594 4 postseason appearances
St. Louis Cardinals 1996 88 74 .543 1st in NL Central 6 4 .600 Lost in NLCS
1997 73 89 .451 4th in NL Central - - -
1998 83 79 .512 3rd in NL Central - - -
1999 75 86 .466 4th in NL Central - - -
2000 95 67 .586 1st in NL Central 4 4 .500 Lost in NLCS
2001 93 69 .574 1st in NL Central 2 3 .400 Lost in NLDS
2002 97 65 .599 1st in NL Central 4 4 .500 Lost in NLCS
2003 85 77 .525 3rd in NL Central - - -
2004 105 57 .648 1st in NL Central 7 8 .467 Lost in World Series
2005 100 62 .617 1st in NL Central 5 4 .556 Lost in NLCS
2006 83 78 .516 1st in NL Central 11 5 .688 Won in World Series
2007 78 84 .481 3rd in NL Central - - -
2008 86 76 .531 4th in NL Central - - -
2009 16  7 .696 1th in NL Central - - -
STL total 1,157   970 .544 (1,141-963 .542 thru 2008) 39 32 .549 7 postseason appearances
American League totals 1,320 1,183 .527 522-510 CWS, 798-673 OAK 20 16 .556 Won 1 World Series
National League totals 1,157   970 .544 (1,141-963 .542 thru 2008) 39 32 .549 Won 1 World Series
TOTALS 2,477 2,153 .535 (2,461-2,146 .534 thru 2008) 59 48 .551 Won 2 World Series

La Russa in books and computer games

In 2005, La Russa was the focus of a book by sportswriter Buzz Bissinger. Bissinger's Three Nights in August delves into La Russa's role as manager during a 3-game series in 2003 between his Cardinals and manager Dusty Baker's Chicago Cubs, their longtime rivals. The book received much praise from both fans and critics, though some complained that Bissinger sets out to glorify La Russa's "old school" managerial style as a direct challenge to the statistical analysis theses of Michael Lewis's 2004 book Moneyball.

As David Leonhardt of The New York Times wrote of the "stats vs. hunches" debate in an August 29, 2005 piece, "What makes this fight truly comparable to those that periodically roil the world of art history or foreign policy is that the differences between the sides are not as great as the sniping between them suggests. La Russa spends much of his time jotting down information on index cards and studying statistics in his office."

George Will's book Men at Work likewise depicts La Russa and his long-time pitching coach Dave Duncan as making more use of statistical analysis than any other team in the major leagues.

La Russa also provided the AI for a series of successful computer and video games, Tony La Russa Baseball (1991-1997). The games won numerous awards and featured "new" statistics selected with La Russa (and provided by prominent sabermetrics authors John Thorn and Pete Palmer) as tools for players as they managed their teams.

See also

  • Chicago White Sox all-time roster
  • List of Major League Baseball managers in 2006
  • List of Major League Baseball managers in 2007
  • List of Major League Baseball managers in 2008
  • List of All-Time Managerial Wins


  1. 1999 St. Louis Cardinals. Baseball Retrieved on 2007-08-16.
  2. LaRussa is Hospitalized Because of Stomach Ailment. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved on 2007-08-16.
  3. Tony LaRussa Statistics. Baseball Reference. Retrieved on 2007-04-28.
  4. Cops: La Russa was asleep at intersection. Retrieved on 2007-03-22.
  5. International Vegetarian Union - Tony LaRussa
  6. 6.0 6.1 Tony LaRussa Biography. National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved on 2009-04-18.
  7. Pi-Gonzalez, Amaury (2006-10-23). St Louis Cardinals win their 10th World Series. Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum News.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Pi-Gonzalez, Amaury (Summer 2008). Tony La Russa Inducted to Our Hall of Fame, Pre-Game induction ceremony at AT&T Park. Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum News. Retrieved on 2008-12-25.


  • Bissinger, Buzz. Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager. Mariner (paperback), 2006.
  • Will, George. Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball. Harper (paperback), 1991.

External links