La Russa’s Legacy Through the Years

From SABR member Larry Granillo at Baseball Prospectus on November 1, 2011:

[T]he Cardinals shocked the baseball world [Monday] by announcing the retirement of 34-year-veteran manager Tony La Russa. It would make La Russa the first manager in history to retire following a World Series victory. Considering that the announcement came less than 72 hours after the final out of the Series, it must not have been that difficult of a decision for La Russa.

It’s been a long time since the world was without the big-brained manager. La Russa has been managing almost continuously since August 2, 1979, when he took over the reigns of the Chicago White Sox from Don Kessinger. The only gap in his employment came in 1986, when Chicago General Manager Hawk Harrelson – yes, that Hawk Harrelson – fired him 64 games into the season. He was hired some three weeks later by the A’s and has been managing ever since.

It’s a bit difficult to imagine what baseball must have been like with a wide-eyed La Russa taking the bench for the first time, before he became synonymous with pitching changes, utility infielders, and, oh yes, superstar-slugging first-basemen. Thankfully, the historic record is there to give us a reminder. Let’s take a look at how manager Tony La Russa was viewed through the years.

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Originally published: November 1, 2011. Last Updated: November 1, 2011.