If ever there was a poster child for those in this world who believe in the virtue of sweating the details, it's former A's Manager Tony La Russa.
Ask anyone who ever played for him or worked with him on anything, the man leaves little to chance. It is that trait, more than any other, that has earned La Russa the honor of being inducted into Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame this weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y.
During his brilliant career as a manager, La Russa always seemed to have the upper hand in nearly any battle of wits.
Sports Illustrated magazine once even used its cover to call him "The Mastermind."
But, as Bud Geracie -- this paper's sports editor -- astutely pointed out at the time of the announcement of the induction, La Russa's outflanking was usually the result of having sweat those details. His relentless work ethic rather than superior intellect was usually at the heart of those clever maneuvers.
La Russa could fairly be nicknamed the Master of Disaster because he rarely encountered a worst-case scenario during a game or a season that he hadn't pondered and worked out a response ahead of time.
Most of those who played for him will tell you that La Russa had a heart for his players. He never seemed to forget the players were not statistics or machines and that each required a little something different from him. He tried to understand them as people first and baseball players second.
Besides guiding the A's, he served as a manager of the Chicago White Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals, compiling the third-highest number of wins of all time.
La Russa will enter the Hall with fellow managers Bobby Cox and Joe Torre, which is about as distinguished a class of managers to enter at any one time.
But La Russa means more to the Bay Area than just being a former A's manager. He and his wife, Elaine, still live in Alamo and he has become almost as famous off the field as he was on it. He regularly lends his name and support for a variety of charitable causes.
But his most remarkable cause is his creation of a foundation to help rescue animals. The Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) has grown from a man's vision into an enormous operation that greatly benefits abused and abandoned animals in the local community.
Not exactly a usual charity for an athlete, but La Russa is not exactly a usual guy. In fact, he is an exceptional one, and we are very proud to call him one of our own.