In a press conference on Monday morning at Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla., the results of Sunday’s vote of the 16-man Expansion Era Committee was announced. Retired manager Tony La Russa, most recently of the St. Louis Cardinals, joins contemporaries Joe Torre and Bobby Cox as unanimous selections to the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2014.
After joining the Cardinals prior to the 1996 season, La Russa guided the club to a franchise-record 1,408 wins. He led the Cardinals to eight division titles (1996, 2000-02, 2004-06 and 2009), three National League pennants (2004, 2006 and 2011) and two World Championships (2006 and 2011).
Under La Russa, the Cardinals finished above .500 in 13 of his 16 seasons. They recorded 105 wins in 2004 and 100 wins in 2005, making La Russa just the second Cardinals manager to oversee two 100-win seasons. In his final season, La Russa became only the second manager to win two World Championships with the Cardinals, joining Billy Southworth (1942 and 1944).
At the time La Russa retired following the 2011 World Series, his 16 years of continuous service was tops among active managers/head coaches in the four major professional sports leagues.
Overall, La Russa managed in the majors for 33 years, starting with the Chicago White Sox in 1979, then moved to the Oakland A’s in 1986, where he experienced his first world title. La Russa and Sparky Anderson are the only managers to have led both a National and American League team to World Series titles. La Russa retired ranked third on the MLB all-time games-managed list with 2,728.
The 69-year-old currently serves as a special assistant to baseball commissioner Bud Selig.
Normally, five years would be required post-retirement to be considered for the Hall, but that does not hold for those over 65 years of age. La Russa comes into the Hall as a result of the vote of the Expansion Era Committee, which considered a dozen finalists who made their primary contributions from 1973 to the present. Among those not elected, with less than 50 percent of the vote each, was former Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons.
La Russa and the other members of the Class of 2014 will be inducted on July 27 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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