Today, the Veterans Committee elected managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, and Joe Torre to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The managerial triumvirate will be inducted next July.
La Russa, Cox, and Torre rank third, fourth and fifth on the all-time managerial wins list (2728, 2504, and 2326 wins respectively). Only Connie Mack and John McGraw can claim more wins from the dugout.
Cox led the Atlanta Braves to 14 consecutive divisional titles (three in the NL West and 11 in the NL West), five NL pennants, and one World Series title in 1995. He also took the Toronto Blue Jays to their first AL East pennant in 1985. Cox was ejected a record 158 times in his career, but will probably go nine in Cooperstown when he shares the stage with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine who anchored his Braves starting rotations with five NL Cy Youngs between them while in Atlanta.
La Russa began his managerial career with the Chicago White Sox in the 1979 season. In 1983, he took the Chisox to their first post-season appearance in nearly a quarter century by winning the AL West. Three years later, La Russa began a decade long stint with the Oakland Athletics, winning three consecutive AL pennants between 1988 and 1990. La Russa tasted World Series glory with Oakland in 1989. But his longest tenure would be with the St. Louis Cardinals. La Russa guided the Redbirds to eight post-season appearances, three NL pennants, and World Series titles in 2006 and 2011. When the Cardinals won the Fall Classic in 2006, La Russa joined Sparky Anderson as the only managers to win World Series titles in both leagues.
It took awhile for Torre to find success in the managerial ranks. When Torre was hired to manage the New York Yankees in 1996, he had a won-loss record of 894-1003 over 14 seasons with the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, and St. Louis Cardinals. Torre’s only post-season appearance came in 1982 when he guided the Braves to a NL West title.
But Torre found a way to handle George Steinbrenner and reached the post-season in all 12 seasons at the helm of the Yankees. Torre guided the Yankees to six AL pennants and four World Series titles. He became the first manager to lead his team to three consecutive World Series titles since Casey Stengel, who did it five years in a row. Torre capped his career with two NL West titles with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Speaking of Steinbrenner, he did not make the cut. Also on the ballot was former Yankees manager Billy Martin, MLBPA Executive Director Marvin Miller, Cardinals and Brewers catcher Ted Simmons, Big Red Machine shortstop Davey Concepcion, Yankees and Dodgers pitcher Tommy John, Pirates and Reds outfielder Dave Parker, Dodgers and Padre first baseman Steve Garvey, and Kansas City Royals reliever Dan Quisenberry.
If Steinbrenner does ever get inducted it should be alongside Martin, although that ceremony would have been much more fun if they were still with us.
But let’s get back to the men of the hour. Here is what I wrote about Cox and La Russa after they retired. Over the years, I have recommended Torre be a vice-presidential running mate as well as MLB’s next Commissioner.
I extend a hearty congratulations to all three men.