LaRussa not the Best, but Indeed One of the Best

Tony LaRussa retired this morning after managing 33 years in Major League Baseball.

LaRussa finished with 2,728 wins for his career, trailing only Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763).  LaRussa managed 5,097 games, joining Mack as the second manager or coach in American sports history to reach 5,000 games.  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 the second manager to win the World Series in both leagues.

LaRussa turned around the Chicago White Sox (522–510–3), Oakland Athletics (798–673) and St. Louis Cardinals (1,408-1,182).  He led the A’s to multiple AL pennants while winning a World Series title in 1989.  He won two NL pennants and World Series titles with the Cardinals in 2006 and this season, in addition to several Central Division titles along the way.

Now here comes the inevitable question: where does LaRussa rank among other managers?

While I wouldn’t call him the best manager in baseball history, I do consider LaRussa to be in the top three.  I mean all he did was turn around three franchises, leading two of them to World Series championships.

While I am thinking about it, here is a list of my best managers of all time:

  1. Connie Mack
  2. Joe McCarthy
  3. Tony LaRussa
  4. Sparky Anderson
  5. Bobby Cox
  6. Terry Francona
  7. Tommy Lasorda
  8. Casey Stengel
  9. Joe Torre
  10. Lou Piniella

I’m sure I will be getting some hate mail over this list, namely from Torre fans.  The difference between most of the managers on this list and Torre is that Torre never really built anything (see the Dodgers).  He was a great manager of men and their egos – but I digress.

Congratulations to LaRussa over what was a Hall of Fame managing career.  He will be missed…

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2 replies

  1. That’s a quick tournaround. Last week, Lou Pinella was a bad manager hire. Now he’s cracked your top 10 all time.

    What’s your take on LaRussa saying he didn’t know anything about the A’s steroid use. I guess he has no choice but to say that but does that tarnish him at all?

    • Well Piniella was the wrong hire for the Cubs, mainly because people figured that he couldn’t take the Cubs’ dysfunction.

      As for LaRussa and the rampant steroid use on the A’s, what was he supposed to say? Dude was loyal to his players, and that’s why they loved him and played hard for him. Plus it didn’t hurt that LaRussa is a smart manager who often out-managed his counterparts…

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