La Russa, Torre Elected To Baseball Hall Of Fame
Updated at 3:50 p.m. with analysis from Derrick Goold.
Updated at 11:55 a.m. with comments from the St. Louis Cardinals.
Updated at 11 a.m. with quotes from La Russa.
Updated at 10 a.m. with statement from commissioner Bud Selig.
This story will be updated.
Long-time Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has been unanimously elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Here's the official news by way of a tweet Monday morning:
(If you're curious about the methodology behind the election process, check out this explanation).
La Russa spent 16 of his 33 managing years in St. Louis, where he racked up nine playoff appearances, three World Series appearances and two World Series wins for the Cardinals. He is third on baseball's all-time wins list.
But he was "stunned" to be elected to the Hall.
"I will honestly and categorically state, I don’t think I will ever feel comfortable being a part of that club," he said at a press conference at the winter meetings near Orlando, Fla.
He jokingly credited "all the guys who knew I was lousy" as a player for his success as a manager.
La Russa could have secured election to the Hall of Fame with his win-loss record alone, says Derrick Goold, the lead Cardinals beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"His fingerprints are on the modern game when you look at how closers are used, how specialists are used, pitchers batting eighth," Goold said. "He got a lot of attention for how he thought about and approached and pushed the envelope of the game."
Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. echoed that sentiment in his own statement, which called La Russa's tenure with the team "one of the greatest eras" in history.
"Tony’s passion for winning and innovative leadership not only helped the Cardinals achieve so much, his approach transformed how the game is managed and played today," he said.
The big question now: what hat will La Russa wear at the induction ceremony in July?
Goold says the Hall of Fame ultimately decides the team affiliation of a member, but officials at the Hall will try to reach some consensus with La Russa, who also managed the Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics.
"There is the option that the Hall can put him in with a blank hat," Goold said - something that last happened in 1987 when pitcher Catfish Hunter was elected to the Hall. "[La Russa] was real reluctant to discuss it today - he says he wants to try and find a way not to disrespect the other two teams that don't get chosen. But I think the Hall is going to take into account, and Tony's going to have to take into account that he's the all-time leader in wins for the Cardinals, a crown-jewel franchise, two of his World Series came with the Cardinals. There's a lot of momentum for him to go in with STL on his cap."
La Russa announced his retirement in October 2011. Managers must ordinarily wait 10 years to be eligible for the Hall, unless they are older than 65.
Two other retired managers were also unanimously elected to the Hall Monday. Joe Torre preceded La Russa in St. Louis, and played for the Cardinals from 1969 to 1974. And former Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox will also be in Cooperstown in July. He replaced Torre in Atlanta in his first stint with the Braves.
La Russa called his fellow inductees class acts.
"When you play against guys like that, it’s a great competition," he said. "They really want to beat you, it’s your team against their team, but you learn about winning and losing the right way."
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig issued the following statement:
“I am thrilled that these great managers during my tenure as Commissioner will join the legends of our game in the halls of Cooperstown. In careers of consistent excellence and incredible longevity, Bobby, Tony and Joe all left indelible impacts on our national pastime. For decades, these three individuals not only led great ballclubs, but instilled in their teams a brand of class and professionalism that baseball fans admired. It is fitting that Bobby, Tony and Joe will share our game’s highest honor together. “Joe and Tony have been outstanding members of our staff at Major League Baseball in recent years. On behalf of all of their colleagues with MLB, it is an honor to congratulate them and their families on this milestone. I look forward to a remarkable day for all of Baseball next July 27th in Cooperstown."
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