Friday, June 29, 2012

1964 TOPPS TONY LARUSSA

BEFORE THE GEICO GEKKO THERE WAS THIS.


WON'T  MAKE IT TO COOPERSTOWN ON THOSE STATS ALONE.

THE FRONT PAGE

THE BACK PAGE 

  • Tony LaRussa attended Jefferson High School in Tampa, and as the back explains, was a jock of all trades. 
  • A shoulder injury, playing softball of all things, might have hurt his playing career. In 132 games played, he only hit .199, drove in seven and scored 15 runs.
  • Without uncovering the answer, I can tell you that Hack Wilson of the Cubs holds the NL record for home runs in a season with 58.

PHOTO PLAY

  • Love the long-sleeved undershirt with the numbers. Looks comfy, almost pajama-like.
  • Who's that suspicious man in the stands? K.C. "sanitation boss'' Nick Civella?

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • Received his law degree from Florida State in 1978, and when he was named the White Sox manager the following year, he joined John Montgomery Ward (late 1800s), Hughie Jennings, Miller Huggins, Muddy Ruel, Jack Hendricks and Branch Rickey in the exclusive manager-lawyer club. 
  • A little humor: Why won't sharks attack attorneys? Give up? Professional courtesy.
  • Guided the White Sox to the AL West title in '83. He spent eight years there, taking over for Don Kessinger and compiling a 522-510 record. Chicago let him go in '86 when the club began 26-38. After being out of work less than three weeks, the Athletics brought him back to the family, succeeding Jackie Moore.
  • He helped build a mini-dynasty, going 798-673 and winning three pennants and a World Series. After the Haas family sold the A's in '95, La Russa made a break and followed Joe Torre with the Cardinals.
  • He had his longest managerial stint under the arch, guiding the Cards 16 years and winning three pennants and two World Series. He's the winningest manager in Cardinals history (1,408) and retired after last season's epic seven-game Series win over the Rangers.
  • Because he's from my hometown, I've always cheered for La Russa, but he definitely has his detractors. I know for certain sworn-enemy Ozzie Smith was seen doing a series of back flips, layouts with twists and flic flacs after hearing La Russa wasn't filling out a lineup card anymore. 
  • No doubt La Russa tended to overmanage and drag out games, but there's another side to him away from the diamond. An ardent animal rights supporter, he founded Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation. That, above all else, makes him a hero to me. To donate to this worthy cause, follow this link. 

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