Colorado Springs, CO – The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) is pleased to announce that Hall of Famer and four-time Manager of the Year Tony La Russa will be honored with the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award at the 20th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City.
The event, which will take place on Thursday, November 7 at Capitale, recognizes former major league players for their accomplishments on the diamond coupled with their off-the-field contributions to communities across the nation.
La Russa’s professional baseball career began at 18 years old after joining the Kansas City Athletics in 1963. Five years later after the Athletics moved to Oakland, La Russa came back from an arm injury after spending time in the minors to play for six more years as an infielder, retiring in 1977. La Russa began his managerial career as a player-coach in the minor leagues shortly after retiring as a player and went on to become a minor league manager in 1978 before earning a promotion to first base coach with the Chicago White Sox after Larry Doby was named team manager. The following year, La Russa returned to a managerial position in the minor leagues with the Iowa Oaks until he took over as player-manager for the White Sox on August 2 that same year, where he remained until 1986. From 1986 to 1995, La Russa managed the Oakland Athletics, leading them to a World Series championship in 1989.
In 1996, La Russa took over as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals for 16 full seasons. During his tenure, La Russa took the Cardinals to the National League playoffs nine times, won the National League pennant three times and won two World Series championships. La Russa won his 2,195th game on August 25, 2004, jumping Sparky Anderson for third
La Russa split his time in the majors between the Athletics organization, Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs. Photo: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
place on the all-time wins list behind Connie Mack and John McGraw. Three years later on August 20, La Russa passed Bucky Harris to move into third place all-time in major league games managed and, in 2009, became the third manager to reach 2,500 wins in the majors. On June 10, 2011, La Russa managed his 5,000th game in the majors and announced his retirement after the Cardinals’ World Series win, finishing his career only 35 games short of John McGraw on the all-time list for games won. After his retirement, La Russa was offered the opportunity to manage the National League All-Star team during the 2012 All-Star Game, which La Russa accepted, leading the National League team to an 8-0 victory. On May 11, 2012, La Russa’s uniform number 10 was retired by the Cardinals.
La Russa currently serves as Vice President and Special Assistant to the President of Baseball Operations with the Boston Red Sox. La Russa is also an attorney, having enrolled in law school during the 1973 offseason at Florida State University. After graduating in 1978, La Russa passed the Florida bar one year later with the intent to practice law. However, La Russa became interested in managing and never looked back. La Russa also established the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) after picking up a stray cat outside of Oakland Coliseum in 1990. While La Russa’s intention was to give the cat to a local animal shelter, he instead adopted it after learning that the cat would be euthanized if given up. After establishing ARF, La Russa and his wife financed the construction of a compound in Walnut Creek, Calif. where animals can be kept and matched with potential owners, including military veterans.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in love with the game of baseball,” said La Russa. “I’ve had good fortune throughout my managing career with the White Sox, Athletics and Cardinals [organizations] being very supportive of competing, the value of coaches, scouts, player development and baseball operations personnel. This award is the latest example of my good fortune.”
Other awards presented at the Legends for Youth Dinner include the Heart and Hustle Award and the Brooks Robinson Community Service Award. The Brooks Robinson Community Service Award will be presented to a player who embodies dedication and service to his community. The 15th annual Heart and Hustle Award will also be presented to the active player who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game.
MLBPAA allocates proceeds from the dinner to the Legends for Youth Baseball Clinic series. The Legends for Youth program is a series of free baseball clinics designed to provide children with positive role models, teach young players baseball fundamentals and promote the game of baseball. Former players such as Eric Davis, Jim Kaat, Graig Nettles, Bret Saberhagen, Andy Van Slyke and Greg Vaughn have participated in past clinics.