Former A's manager Tony La Russa was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame on Monday. His election drew a lot of reaction from his former players with the A's, whom he managed from midway through the 1986 season until 1995. Here are some of their comments:
Pitcher Dave Stewart recalls La Russa as always being prepared.
"I think what made him a Hall of Famer was his preparation," Stewart said. "I don't think he ever entered a game where he wasn't prepared.''
La Russa didn't deny being prepared but said that preparation was just a part of what made his teams successful.
"We were always prepared, but when people bring that up like it's the biggest thing, that's a little bit of a sore spot," La Russa said. "The one thing that distinguished our teams through 30 years was the way we competed. We required our guys to play hard and to play right, or you weren't going to play for us. Preparation is like studying for the test, but it's not the test itself. The test is the game, the competition.''
How competitive was La Russa. Dennis Eckersley recalled a 1986 spring training game when he was still with the Cubs. Eckersley was getting knocked around by the A's, but still had to throw his 80 pitches to get ready for the season, as he was supposed to be one of Chicago's starters.
"It's like 6-0 and (Jose) Canseco steals second base," Eckersley said. "I look at him and ask why. He points to Tony in the dugout. Tony goes, 'Yeah, I called it.' I was ticked off. I thought he didn't like me. Then a week later they traded for me and he turned my career around, letting me close. We became friends; he was like my big brother."
Mark McGwire, who played for La Russa in Oakland and St. Louis, and got his start as a hitting coach with the Cardinals while La Russa still was managing the team, said, "If I have aspirations to somebody be a manager, he's the guy I would follow and do things the way he did things. I love the way he runs a game."
For now, McGwire coaches under Don Mattingly as hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.