Tony La Russa
Legendary Major League Baseball Manager & Best-Selling Author, Chief Baseball Officer, Arizona Diamondbacks
Tony La Russa is in his second full season as the D-backs Chief Baseball Officer and 55th in professional baseball. He joined the franchise on May 17, 2014, and in his current role, is involved in all facets of the organization’s baseball operations. The 2014 inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame is the…
Tony La Russa is in his second full season as the D-backs Chief Baseball Officer and 55th in professional baseball. He joined the franchise on May 17, 2014, and in his current role, is involved in all facets of the organization’s baseball operations. The 2014 inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame is the first person in Major League history to hold the position of chief baseball officer.
Upon taking the reins of the Diamondbacks’ baseball operations, La Russa spent the 2014 season evaluating the entire system before naming Dave Stewart as senior vice president and general manager and De Jon Watson as senior vice president, baseball operations. La Russa also led the process of hiring Chip Hale as the team’s manager and together the group enjoyed a 15-game improvement between 2014-15.
This offseason, the baseball operations leadership added four All-Stars to the team—pitchers Shelby Miller and Tyler Clippard, infielder Jean Segura and former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, who signed a six-year deal with the largest annual average value in Major League history.
Since joining the organization, La Russa and his staff have acquired 36 players via trade with an average age of 23.6 while trading away 32 players with an average age of 27.1. That includes starting catcher Welington Castillo, pitchers Rubby De La Rosa, Robbie Ray and Zack Godley in addition to four of the team’s top 10 prospects, according to Baseball America (Peter O’Brien, Gabriel Guerrero, Jack Reinheimer and Domingo Leyba). A fifth top prospect, Yoan López, was signed as a free agent out of Cuba.
La Russa joined the Diamondbacks following two seasons at Major League Baseball’s league offices, serving as a special assistant to commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. He has also served on the Commissioner’s 14-member Special Committee for On-Field Matters since December 2009.
La Russa, the winningest Major League manager since 1950 and the third-winningest of all-time, captured three World Series titles, six league championships, 12 division titles and was a four-time “Manager of the Year”. He and Sparky Anderson are the only two managers to win World Series titles in both leagues. His 2,728 regular-season wins as a manager trail only Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763) all-time, his 70 postseason wins are second-most behind Joe Torre (84) and his 14 postseason appearances are third-most behind Bobby Cox (16) and Torre (15).
He retired at the height of his success, following the 2011 World Series championship as skipper of the St. Louis Cardinals. La Russa finished his big league managing career with a .536 regular-season winning percentage (2,728-2,365) and a .547 postseason winning percentage (70-58). He led his teams to 100-plus wins on 4 occasions (1988, ’90, 2004-05), a .600-plus winning percentage 6 times and a .500 winning percentage or better in 24 seasons.
He managed for 33 seasons in the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox (1979-86), Oakland A’s (1986-1995) and St. Louis Cardinals (1996-2011) along with parts of 2 seasons managing in the minors. During his 16-year professional playing career, La Russa spent parts of 6 seasons in the Majors with the Kansas City Athletics (1963), Oakland A’s (1968-71), Atlanta Braves (1971) and Chicago Cubs (1973).
La Russa’s big league managerial career began with the White Sox in 1979 at the age of 35, when he became the youngest manager in the game. He was hired by then-General Manager Roland Hemond, who currently serves as Diamondbacks special assistant to president and CEO Derrick Hall. He has been widely credited with creating the modern specialized bullpen and was an early adopter of statistical analysis.
He reached the pinnacle of his career in 2014, when he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Expansion Era Committee along with former Managers Cox and Torre. He was also inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014 and had his No. 10 retired by the team. La Russa is a member of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (1998) and the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame (2008).
A native Spanish-speaker, La Russa graduated from Jefferson High School in Tampa, Florida, the same school that produced current Diamondbacks senior advisor to the president and CEO Luis Gonzalez as well as former big leaguers Tino Martinez and Fred McGriff.
La Russa graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Industrial Management and earned his Juris Doctor degree from Florida State University in 1978, passing the Florida bar in 1979. He was one of just five lawyer/managers in baseball history, all of whom are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He has earned honorary doctoral degrees from two colleges: the University of Missouri and Washington University.
In 2012, he released his memoir, One Last Strike. He was the focus of a 2005 book titled Three Nights in August by Buzz Bissinger and 1990 book titled Men At Work: The Craft of Baseball by George Will. All three books were named to the New York Times best seller list.
La Russa and his wife, Elaine, founded Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) in 1991 to address the needs of companion animals. Since then, the foundation has found a home for more than 30,000 animals while raising over $100 million. In 2015, ARF earned the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest independent charity evaluator. This marked the eighth consecutive year it has reached that designation, a level achieved by only 2 percent of charities rated. La Russa and Elaine’s vision is an organization that can aid abandoned and homeless animals and promote the concept that people’s lives can be enhanced by the bonds between humans and animals. For his efforts, La Russa was awarded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA) prestigious “Henry Bergh Founder’s Award” in 2007.
He and Elaine reside in Alamo, California. They have two daughters, Bianca and Devon, and countless rescued cats and dogs.
Ernie was perfect for our Elders Conference at Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan. We will definitely be using PDA again!
LITTLE RIVER BAND OF OTTAWA INDIANS
Our speaker was great and the crowd enjoyed her! She was very engaging. Thank you again PDA for the great list of suggestions!
Everything went great! and our speaker was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your help PDA! Looking forward to the next one.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI – KANSAS CITY
I hope that this message finds you well. We had a phenomenal time with Atsuko this past Thursday. We wanted to just let you know how amazing she was. All those that were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed her and had nothing but amazing things to say about her. Thank you for working with us to make sure this happened!
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
We had a fantastic day with Inge! She was very engaging with all those that attended. Her personal stories about the holocaust were very special and we were moved that she was willing to share them with everyone. Thank you again, PDA for all your hard work and dedication to make this program such a success!
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dear PDA Group, Thank you so much for your hard work in scheduling our speaker! From the moment we reached out to you the first time, you worked with us on all details and logistics and kept us up-to-date on the progress. Thank you for all your hard work on making our event such a success! We couldn't have done it without you and your team!
Thank you again, Dr. Kimbrough, for a great presentation, our attendees are still talking about it!
Dr. Henry Lee's presentation was entertaining, insightful and wise. I, and everyone at Pfizer, especially appreciate the remarks you directed about following your passion and preparing yourself to excel. Thank you, everyone, at PDA for helping to make this happen!
The event was successful! I received many messages expressing how awesome, outstanding and inspiring Ms. Webb-Christburg's speech was."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, BOSTON, MLK SPEAKER
Everything went well. Atsuko was very easy to work with and the students enjoyed her performance! Thank you again for your recommendation and I hope to work with you again in the future!
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Dr. Novello left this morning after a very successful event on our campus! Thank you PDA Group for your help from the first phone to the last you were with us every step of the way.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Jordan Carlos was very very entertaining! A majority of students who answered the event survey indicated they really enjoyed Jordan and definitely will bring him back!
WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
On behalf of myself and my organization Entertainment Unlimited the Campus Programming Board of Ferris State University, we thank you PDA and Dan for a successful event!! Dan was magnificent! Students really enjoyed the presentation. I know I did. Can't wait to bring in more programs with PDA Group.
FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
It was a great pleasure to work with PDA Group! The communication was always prompt, friendly and helpful. We loved the speakers and events we booked through Mr. Peter Walker (PDA Group).
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Thank you, Peter, for all your help, you'll be happy to know that the event went incredibly well! Aneesa Ferreira was by far one of the best speakers we've ever had!
Q & A with Coaching Legend Tony La Russa
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