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La Russa, Cox, Torre elected to Hall of Fame

Dec 9, 2013, 11:41 AM EST

Associated Press Associated Press

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre all were unanimous selections to the Hall of Fame today, a trio of baseball’s greatest managers honored together with enshrinement in Cooperstown.

Cox, La Russa and Torre were voted in by the Hall’s Expansion Era Committee, a 16-person panel that includes Hall of Famers, baseball executives and historians. They were selected from a field of 12 candidates that included (among others) former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, former players’ union chief Marvin Miller and ex-players Steve Garvey and Tommy John.

There was little debate about the worthiness of Cox, La Russa and Torre, among the most successful managers in baseball history, and the fact each was a unanimous selection by the committee only underscores that.

Cox managed the Braves and Blue Jays for 29 total seasons, winning 15 division titles (including 14 straight first-place finishes in Atlanta), five NL pennants and the 1995 World Series. La Russa won 2,728 games (third-most in history) over 33 seasons with the White Sox, Athletics and Cardinals, six league championships and World Series titles in 1989, 2006 and 2011. Torre won four World Series titles with the Yankees (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000) to highlight a 29-year career in which he also managed the Mets, Braves and Cardinals.

Cox, La Russa and Torre will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 27, along with any former players elected by the Baseball Writers Association next month. Once that happens, there will be only one manager in baseball history with a career record at least 300 games over .500 who isn’t in the Hall of Fame: Davey Johnson.

Johnson, of course, wrapped up his career this season with the Nationals. His final career numbers: a 1,372-1071 record over 17 seasons with the Mets, Reds, Orioles, Dodgers and Nats, a .562 winning percentage that ranks 21st all-time, six playoff appearances and the 1986 World Series title in New York.

Johnson’s first opportunity for Hall of Fame election would come in three years when the Expansion Era Committee next meets. How would his candidacy stack up? While there certainly are several factors in his favor, Johnson doesn’t quite stack up to the three managers elected on Monday. His career (17 seasons) didn’t last as long, he didn’t make as many postseason appearances and he spent 10 years away from the dugout.

It’s not an impossible thought, but Johnson probably is destined to go down as one of baseball’s best managers who didn’t make it to the Hall of Fame.

  1. Doc - Dec 9, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    Interesting how easy it is for good managers to make it to the HOF, and how hard it is for good players.

    Writers, by the nature of the game, probably spend more time with the managers, over a career.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 9, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      What would’ve happened to Torre if Steinbrenner didn’t hire him. He could’ve looked like a bottom wrung guy if you look at his losing record pre-Yankees.

      Sometimes managers are only as good as their team, if that makes sense.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        I was under the impression George was in the habit of wringing his employees’ bottoms. The guy had a talent for kissing arms and twisting butts.

      • NatsLady - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:02 PM

        That’s true, but I also think there is a skill to managing star players and to managing in NY.

  2. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    There’s no excuse for continuing to leave Marvin Miller out of the HOF. There are various explanations, I know, but no legitimate excuse.

  3. Theophilus T.S. - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    Miller’s model of union-management relations was like he was representing the United Food and Chemical Workers. Total war. And he made the world safe for Don Fehr. While the players undeniably made great progress, under Fehr they passed close to the edge of destroying the game. Can you imagine under Miller/Fehr the players going to management and asking for more severe punishments for using PEDs? It took Wiener (like Upshaw) to recognize that if the players were going to truly prosper they were going to have to work with the owners to preserve and burnish the brand. It’s a strange situation when tumbling icons and burning bridges gets you into the Hall of Fame.

    I assume that, ultimately, Miller will get into the Hall. But my plaque for him would have a lot of footnotes.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      Sorry, Theo, but I’ve got to disagree strongly. Prior to Marvin Miller’s tenure, the players were treated by indentured servants (or worse). Yes, they had to adopt confrontational tactics, but the owners were so entrenched and stubborn that lawsuits and strikes were the only approaches that would get their attention.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:59 PM

        That should read ‘as indentured servants…’ (not ‘by’).

  4. Theophilus T.S. - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    I concur w/ GSM re Torre. He was as good as the team around him.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 9, 2013 at 1:53 PM

      Thanks. I always said he was good at managing egos but not a tactical manager. Luck and timing and huge payroll and Derek Jeter.

      Speaking of managers, what’s going on with Eric Wedge and the Seattle brass. Whoa!

      • NatsLady - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:03 PM

        About the same as the Washington football team, methinks.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:53 PM

        I think it’s more like ‘What’s going on with the Seattle brass?’ Remember the Mariners have absentee ownership (in Japan) and the majority owner just died. It’s clear that the GM has never really had (or, at least, followed) any sort of ‘plan’ but rather jumped from ill-fated short-term scheme (accept that we have a pitcher’s park and focus on defense!) to ill-fated short-term scheme (load up on 1B/DHs who can pound the ball!). My chunk of Oregon seems to be about evenly divided between Mariners fans and Giants fans, with the Mariners fans obviously suffering.

  5. scnatsfan - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    For those wo don’t think a manager can ruin a good team see the 2012 Nats with a future HOF manager at the helm

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