La Russa: Harrelson had 'innovative' ideas as GM

La Russa: Harrelson had 'innovative' ideas as GM
July 26, 2014, 4:45 pm
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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Tony La Russa doesn’t know that Hawk Harrelson’s radical ideas wouldn’t have worked.

He just knows that he and his White Sox coaching staff weren’t willing to implement the then-general manager’s system.

Reiterating what the White Sox broadcaster said earlier this week, La Russa, who will be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, said he and Harrelson patched things up more than 20 years ago.

La Russa knows Harrelson, who fired him in the middle of the 1986 season, was in a no-win situation because he didn’t have his guy in the dugout. After winning the 1983 American League West title with the White Sox, La Russa won three World Series, six pennants and 11 division titles.

“Hawk and (announcer) Don Drysdale had great experience, they were great baseball men,” La Russa said Saturday. “They had a number of innovative revolutionary ways that they wanted to get an organization going.

“I was there and we had played pretty good in ’85, so he was stuck with me. I think if he had his own guys, I don’t know that his ideas wouldn’t work. I just know they didn’t.”

“We fought him. We tried to work ‘em, but we had to fight ‘em. It had to happen and I think it was ’92, ‘Life’s too short’ and ever since then we’ve been really good friends.”

“If he had a different manager from the get-go it might have worked, it just wasn’t going to work with us.”

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While La Russa made amends with Harrelson, he never did with former White Sox and Cubs announcer Harry Caray, who was critical of the manager early in his career. White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said earlier this week he wished Caray were alive to see La Russa’s induction into Cooperstown.

“The first slice (Caray) took was ‘Bill (Veeck) was too cheap to hire a real manager,’ ” La Russa said. “There’s probably a lot of truth to that. Harry liked to pick on the lambs and I was a lamb.”

La Russa did say he still loves the way he’s treated by White Sox fans, who appreciate the way he handled the 1983 “Winning Ugly” club.

“I’ve heard a lot right along, but here in the last four or five months I’m getting a lot of comments,” La Russa said. “I was only there six-something years, but that ’83 was a magical year and I think historic; it was the first time since ’59 a Chicago team had gotten in the postseason. Talk about personalities with them. I think our fans -- I run into them all the time -- they remember ’83. They enjoyed it. We all enjoyed it. It was something special.”