Torre, La Russa, Cox to Cooperstown

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox, baseball's winningest managers over the past four decades, were unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame on Monday by the expansion era committee.

All three won more than 2,000 games and were selected on all 16 ballots when the committee met Sunday ahead of baseball's winter meetings.

"Managing against them, you certainly learned things," said Torre, now an executive vice president for Major League Baseball. "I am honored to go into the Hall with these two guys."

The induction ceremony will be July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"They say when you're voted to the Hall of Fame your life changes," Cox said. "And it has. I've got goose bumps, and it's the greatest honor that we could ever have."

Torre became the fifth manager to win four World Series championships, leading the New York Yankees to titles in 1996 and from 1998 to 2000 -- beating Cox's Braves twice. After making only one trip to the playoffs in 14 seasons with the New York Mets, St. Louis and Atlanta, Torre guided the Yankees to the postseason in all 12 of his years in the Bronx with a cool, patient demeanor.

His popularity rankled owner George Steinbrenner, who didn't receive the necessary 75 percent of the vote for election in his second appearance on the ballot.

"I think it is a mistake," Yankees president Randy Levine told ESPNNewYork.com. "I congratulate Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa. All of them were thoroughly deserving, but I think there is no doubt that George Steinbrenner was one of the greatest figures in the history of the game. He, more than anybody, deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I fully expect he will be one day."

Torre finished his career by leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to two NL West titles in three seasons, retiring after 2010 with a record of 2,326-1,997. He's the only manager to have more than 2,000 hits as a player -- he was the 1971 NL MVP -- and 2,000 wins in the dugout.

"Joe taught a lot of us about how to win the right way and lose the right way," La Russa said.

The strategy-savvy La Russa won World Series titles with Oakland in 1989 and St. Louis in 2006 and 2011, retiring days after the Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers in a seven-game thriller. Of the nine managers with three or more World Series titles, the other seven all have been inducted.

"It's a stunner," said La Russa, who revealed he'd like to join a club front office, "I miss the winning and losing. ... Some day I'll be with a team, I think. I'd like to be part of the competition again."

La Russa finished with the third most wins by a manager in a career that began with the Chicago White Sox in 1979 and ended with a record of 2,728-2,365.

Cox's managerial career began in 1978 with Atlanta, but he was fired after four seasons -- only one above .500. A four-year run with Toronto ended in 1985 with an AL East title, and Ted Turner lured him back to the Braves as the team's GM. Cox returned to the dugout in 1990, and following one losing season he went on one of the most successful regular-season runs by any skipper, leading the Braves to 14 straight division titles and a World Series championship in 1995.

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