Jerry Reinsdorf can still hear the criticisms lobbed Tony La Russa’s way by his own broadcast team.
Given how things have turned out, the White Sox chairman said he looks forward to Sunday’s induction ceremony when La Russa, who won three World Series titles, six pennants and 12 division titles, enters the National Baseball Hall of Fame. La Russa was in his third season as the White Sox manager when Reinsdorf purchased the club. Reinsdorf remembers how the team’s broadcasters, Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall, didn’t like La Russa’s managerial style.
“I remember at the time I bought the team I thought ‘Well, one of the first things I’m going to have to do is fire the manager’ because the broadcasters, Caray and Piersall, kept talking about how bad he was,” Reinsdorf said. “And then I met him and realized how wrong they were.”
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Despite a 522-510 mark over eight seasons with the White Sox, La Russa only won one division title on the South Side before the club, headed by new general manager Hawk Harrelson, fired him. La Russa joined the Oakland A’s that season and he led them to three straight American League West crowns from 1988-90, including a World Series in 1989.
La Russa -- who owns a 2728-2365 record all-time -- also won seven division titles in 16 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, including three pennants and two World Series championships.
The White Sox have two personalities associated with the team entering the Hall of Fame on Sunday as first baseman Frank Thomas also will be inducted.
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“It was the biggest regret (letting La Russa go),” Reinsdorf said. “Well, it was the combination, naming a general manager that shouldn’t have been a general manager and then letting him fire Tony.
“Obviously having two people connected with the White Sox going in at one time is special. But it’s really special for me to see Tony go in knowing how he suffered early in his career and the abuse he took and to see that he proved all the critics were wrong. I just wish Harry Caray were alive.”