Special Sub-Topic: The Baseball Career of Tony Larussa
|In his limited career as a major league player, what was Tony Larussa's position?|
Utility infielder. Tony's career (1963 to 1973) as a player never amounted to much and was hampered by a chronic shoulder injury. His career batting average was .199, and he achieved 100 at-bats in a season only once (in 1970 with Oakland).
|Tony Larussa managed three teams between 1979 and 2011. Which of these is the one that Tony Larussa *never* managed?|
California Angels. Larussa spent seven seasons managing the White Sox (1979 - 1986), ten with Oakland (1986 - 1995), and sixteen in St. Louis (1996 - 2011). He was 34 when he first took over the job in Chicago.
|At the time that Tony Larussa announce his retirement in October 2011, only one man had managed more major league games than Larussa. Who was it?|
Connie Mack. Born Cornelius McGillicuddy, Connie Mack managed in the majors for a total of 57 years (1894 to 1950), including 50 seasons as the skipper of the Philadelphia Athletics. He was part-owner of the Athletics, and didn't retire until he was 87 years old. Mack had a career losing record at .486 (3731-3948). By contrast, Larussa had w winning percentage of .536 (2828-2365).
|Who did Larussa confirm in writing as the best baseball player he ever managed?|
Albert Pujols. Larussa managed quite a few great players during his career, but Pujols impressed him the most with his talent, attitude, and understanding of the game. Albert Pujols joined the Cardinals in 2001 and became a free agent after the end of the 2011 season.
|Who was the pitching coach that worked alongside Larussa for 29 consecutive seasons, beginning in 1983?|
Dave Duncan. Larussa and Duncan first met as teammates on the Oakland A's in the early 1970's. A decade later, Larussa hired Duncan as his pitching coach, and the rest is history. Interestingly, as a player Dave Duncan was not a pitcher. He was a catcher.
Leo Mazzone was pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves in the 1990s, and Tom House coached for the Texas Rangers. Eckersley was a pitcher for Larussa in Oakland, and was later elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
|In his later years with the St. Louis Cardinals, Tony Larussa often put the pitcher eighth in the batting order.|
t. Larussa figured that putting the pitcher eighth decreased the number of innings in which the pitcher came up first and started the inning with an out. In other words, by putting a 'real' hitter into the ninth slot in the batting order, it increased the chances that the ninth batter got on base and could be driven in by someone at the top of the order.
At the time of his retirement in October 2011, no other National League manager had adopted this strategy.
|While Tony Larussa was managing in Oakland (1986 - 1995), what nickname was given to the player duo of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire?|
The bash brothers. During the 1987 and 1988 seasons, Canseco and McGwire combined for more than 150 home runs between them. Of course, we now know that much of that power was fueled by the use of steroids.
|Who was the White Sox general manager that fired Tony Larussa in 1986?|
Ken Harrelson. Ken "The Hawk" Harrelson was a journeyman baseball player in the 1970's with several teams. After he retired as a player and got into radio, he was hired as a White Sox play-by-play announcer. In a grand experiment in 1986, he was made the White Sox general manager and fired Larussa part-way through the year. Tony was hired a few weeks later as manager of the A's, and Harrelson was returned to the announcing booth for the 1987 season.
Bill Veeck was the owner of the White Sox during Larussa's first two years managing the team. Billy Beane was GM of the Oakland A's after Larussa had moved to St. Louis, and he was the subject of the book and movie "Moneyball". Jocketty was the Cardinals' GM who hired Larussa away from Oakland.
|Who was the only player to die during a baseball season while Tony Larussa was his manager?|
Darryl Kile. Pitcher Darryl Kile died at age 33 from a heart attack while on a road trip to Chicago. Larussa stated that the 2002 season was the toughest of his career, because of the deaths of Kile and the Cardinals announcer Jack Buck within four days of each other. Tony won the NL Manager of the Year award that year.
Munson was the Yankees' catcher who died after crashing a private plane in 1978. Angels' outfielder Bostock was shot to death in Gary, Indiana in 1978. Moore was a relief pitcher for the Angels who killed himself three years after taking the blame for losing the 1986 AL Championship Series.
|Everyone remembers Tony Larussa as a baseball guy, but what was his highest achievement academically?|
Law degree. After his playing days were over in 1973, he went back to school and earned a law degree from Florida State University. He chose coaching and managing over a legal career, despite the advice of a law professor to grow up and leave the kid's game behind.
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