COOPERSTOWN — A modest and self-effacing Tony La Russa fielded questions from the media during his orientation tour at the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday.
“I was more comfortable before I started this tour,” La Russa said in the Hall’s Plaque Gallery. “This is an overwhelming place.”
Despite hardly referencing it during the media conference, La Russa’s resume ensured that it was no surprise to most observers that he was elected to the Hall this year.
La Russa’s 2,728 wins are the third most of any manager in Major League Baseball history. He managed teams to six World Series appearances over a 33-year career, winning the 1989 title with the Oakland Athletics and the 2006 and 2011 championships with the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I just appreciate being a part of three organizations that contributed to the record that earned this election,” said La Russa, who started his major league managing career with the Chicago White Sox in 1979.
Asked about finding success in the American and National leagues, La Russa chose to credit his teachers and mentors.
“The longer that you work, the more you realize how that basic philosophy came into play,” La Russa said. “This is knowledge that’s been passed on for a hundred years. I didn’t innovate anything.”
He acknowledged the coaches who worked under him, saying: “It’s not me, it’s us.”
La Russa also referred to his 2014 election with fellow managers Bobby Cox and Joe Torre as “absolutely perfect.”
“I had many more games against Bobby, with a losing record by the way,” he said, adding that Cox was friendly and sociable during the winter but all business during the season. “I realized the he had it figured exactly right. He never forgets there’s a score.”
La Russa also praised Torre.