In his 34 season as a main league supervisor, Tony La Russa has received three World Series titles, six pennants and 12 division titles. Impressive numbers, of course, but it surely’s the 2,764 wins which might be actually distinctive in MLB historical past.
With his 2,764th victory — on Sunday, when the White Sox beat the Tigers 3-0 behind a stellar effort from Dylan Cease — La Russa moved into sole possession of second place on the checklist of all-time managerial wins. He moved previous John McGraw and now trails solely Connie Mack (spoiler: he’s not catching Mack and his 3,731 wins).
“Lot of pieces to this day including this uniform and coming back here to have it happen,” La Russa informed reporters after the recreation. “It’s just overwhelming.”
With the help of The Sporting News archives, let’s take a look back at the beginnings of what turned out to be a legendary career as a big league manager.
La Russa spent his last days as an active player in the Cardinals system, for the franchise’s Triple-A club in New Orleans. And he had a chance to keep playing, but he was 32 years old and apparently saw the writing on the wall. In the July 16, 1977 issue, TSN reported that the Denver Bears — La Russa had arguably his best offensive season there in 1975 — wanted to sign him, but he accepted an offer to stay with the Pelicans as a coach.
And a few weeks later, he earned his first wins as a skipper. From the July 30, 1977, issue:
Tony La Russa wound up with a profitable file throughout his transient stint as interim supervisor for New Orleans. La Russa, subbing for Lance Nichols, who underwent precautionary remaining exams for lymph hassle in a Kansas City, Mo., hospital, received the Pelicans three wins in his 5 outings at the helm.
That December, La Russa was named the supervisor of the White Sox’s Double-A membership in Knoxville for the 1978 season. With 10 video games left in the first half of that season, La Russa’s membership had an 11 1/2-game lead. The Sox wound up with a 49-21 file in the first half.
A quote from the July 1 difficulty of TSN:
”Four issues received this championship for us — good protection, well timed hitting, good aid pitching and a wonderful perspective. And despite the fact that we’re already in the playoffs, we’ll hold taking part in exhausting the relaxation of the season as a result of come June 24 (start of the second half), we’ll be all even once more.”
Huh. That sounds acquainted, doesn’t it?
La Russa wasn’t round for the second half of the Knoxville season — the membership went 39-35 after his departure — as a result of he was promoted again to the huge leagues as half of a large change in the management of the guardian membership. Manager Bob Lemon and his crew have been out, and La Russa was half of the replacements. From the July 22 difficulty of TSN:
The widespread Minnie Minoso was additionally changed as the first-base coach by Tony La Russa, beforehand the supervisor at Knoxville. Minoso will stay in the group and work in the public relations division. He may also be in uniform earlier than house video games. Minoso broke into tears when suggested of the change.
The transfer was big for La Russa, who as a participant had fallen 88 days brief of reaching the minimal for receiving a main league pension. La Russa completed the 1978 season with the White Sox, then was named supervisor of the Triple-A Iowa Oaks for 1979.
How about this nugget from the June 2, 1979, difficulty of TSN?
Tony La Russa has moved into second place on the all-time supervisor wins checklist. Very cool.
Oh, how I want there was video of at the present time again when he was the 34-year-old skipper of the Iowa Oaks in 1979 … pic.twitter.com/dHpYXyk6sb
— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) June 8, 2021
With the headline “La Russa goes loco” in a notes package deal, here is the textual content:
Thad Bosley and Kevin Bell every had three hits, however Iowa supervisor Tony LaRussa offered most of the fireworks May 11 when the Oaks overwhelmed Denver, 11-5. Most of the LaRussa theatrics occurred whereas protesting being thrown out in the ninth inning after a transient brushback battle. LaRussa argued abou this exit for fairly a while, then earlier than leaving the premises, picked up third base and pitched it into foul territory. In a remaining salute, he tossed a rubbish can onto the discipline from the runway.
La Russa didn’t end that minor league season as supervisor, both, due to extra change with the White Sox. Don Kessinger informed proprietor Bill Veeck over lunch on Aug. 2, an off day, that the membership wasn’t taking part in effectively and he supplied his resignation. Veeck, pissed off watching his staff wrestle to a 46-60 file, accepted.
La Russa was given the huge league job, at 34 years previous. He was the fifth supervisor since Veeck bought the membership in the winter earlier than the 1976 season, following Kessinger, Larry Doby, Bob Lemon, Paul Richards and Chuck Tanner.
“I was surprised when I got the call. I feel a challenge in this job — a responsibility to the fans I few to like when I was here last year as a coach. My No. 1 goal is to build a champion, but I know the fans won’t want to wait forever.”
Fun truth: Kessinger was a participant/supervisor for the 1979 White Sox. In 56 video games in his Age 36 season, the six-time All-Star shortstop batted .200 with a .546 OPS. He didn’t instantly retire as a participant — the Expos have been rumored to have curiosity — however he by no means performed once more. That was his solely look as a huge league supervisor.
He was additionally the final participant/supervisor in American League historical past. Only Pete Rose — who was the participant/supervisor for the Reds from 1984 to 1986 — pulled the double-duty after Kessinger.
La Russa’s first house video games as the White Sox supervisor have been a bit of a catastrophe. Remember the notorious Disco Demolition evening on July 12 of that 12 months, when the second recreation of the double-header was forfeited to the Tigers as a result of the discipline was unplayable after the explosion that destroyed all these disco data?
Well, whereas the White Sox have been on the street Aug. 3-9 — the membership went 4-2 underneath La Russa — a live performance was held at the stadium, that includes Santana, Journey, Eddie Money and Molly Hatchet. The stage had been arrange in heart discipline, with the infield fenced off. But concert-goers have been all over the place else on the discipline, and they chewed up the grass. Combine that with large quantities of rain, and the discipline was a catastrophe. The scheduled recreation on Aug. 10 was postponed whereas the Sox tried to repair their discipline; the resolution was to pour large quantities of a sand-like compound in the outfield to behave as a drying agent. It labored, form of.
The White Sox and Blue Jays have been in a position to play double-headers on Aug. 11 and 12 — they every received two video games — however gamers hated taking part in in these sandy, sloppy situations.
“It looked a little like the Sahara,” Veeck stated.
The White Sox completed out the season with a 27-27 file underneath La Russa, together with a 13-5 file of their remaining 18 video games. That was sufficient for Veeck to deliver again his younger supervisor for the 1980 season, and he held the job till 1986.