Tony La Russa, Joe Torre, and Bobby Cox talk at Baseball Hall of Fame Press Conference
Q. I was wondering if each of you could say a few words about the other two, and what it’s like to all three of you to be going in together.
Dec 9, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Tony La Russa speaks after being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame during the MLB Winter Meetings at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. Image Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
BOBBY COX: Well, we had our fun going against each other, that’s for sure. And I was fired from Atlanta, what, 1980, Joe? And Joe took my spot ’81, and immediately won the Division. So it’s been fun going against Tony. They’re not the easiest guys to manage against, that’s for sure. But it was fun. It was always a battle. And I consider them enemies on the field, but friends off the field.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I’ve already mentioned the career, so when I had a chance to manage for Chicago I was 34 years old, I had a real poor career, and hadn’t managed very long. A lot of good things happened, I had great coaches, but Jim Leyland and I got together and we analyzed the coaches, because the managers in the American League, you recognized by their first names, Whitey, Billy, Sparky, Gene, Johnny Mac. And we would always analyze after playing against them, we were trying to learn.
And I’ll never forget we were playing against Toronto, and after the series was over Jim and I are riding the plane out of there, and saying that guy over there in Toronto, he’s as good as anybody. And that was Bobby Cox. And that’s what he ended up being, as good as anybody. The thing that I mentioned to Joe outside, first time I came to National League, I knew Bobby from the winter meetings, had a great time talking to him, a wonderful guy, we played our first game against him. And he was always standing at first base, and I thought it was conversation if he stays right there. He never conversed.
He’s a ferocious competitor, in the highest class way. And you play against guys like that, it’s a great competition. They really want to beat you. But you learn about winning and losing the right way. And from Bobby I always thought great guy, but whenever you start keeping score he was there to beat you. And he tried everything he could in the right way to do it.
And with Joe, he’s with the Yankees, they had some assets, and nobody ever really got upset. They were disappointed, but the reason I really believe this, Joe taught a lot of us about how to win the right way and then lose the right way. Tip your cap when you get beat, but when you win you don’t show anybody up. For both of these guys to be at this table and going with them, part of two guys you’re honored to be a part of.
JOE TORRE: As Bobby pointed out, I managed the Braves, because I was always told the second job is the toughest one to get. I was hired by Ted Turner to manage in ’82 after Bobby had left. And I sort of want to amend that, because the third job is the toughest one to get, because I was broadcasting for six years. That’s when I got a chance to meet Tony, watch him manage the Oakland ball club. And of course I managed St. Louis and then Tony, we sort of connected at some point. Tony followed me in St. Louis.
But as far as managing against them, you knew you had to be at your best, because Tony Bobby and Tony were two different guys, but the one thing, the one common thread was the fact how ferociously they wanted to win, and how badly they wanted to win, and how ferociously they would compete. And it was just something that, you know, in managing against them, you certainly learned things, also. Because the worst thing a manager can have happen is to have something surprise you. But when you manage against the best, and I certainly am honored to go to the Hall with these two guys, because it just would have felt somewhat empty if one of us or one of these two guys, in my case, was left out.
MODERATOR BRAD HORN: The next question is on your far right.
Q. Congratulations, gentlemen. This is a question, if it could be answered by one of the voting members, when the plague is chiseled for Joe Torre, was his playing career considered as well as his managerial career? Is he going in as a manager?
JACK O’CONNELL: Well, we were instructed that the totality of a person’s career can be considered by the Committee. So we did discuss Joe’s playing career, because as part of discussion. But he’s going in as a manager. It was his managerial career that he was placed on the Committee on the ballot as a manager.
Q. Congratulations. Bobby, this is for you. You alluded to or mentioned the fact that Maddux and Glavine might be going in this summer or should be going in this summer. What’s that going to add for you, and describe the dynamic looking ahead to what it’s going to be like possibly being there in Cooperstown with those two guys?
BOBBY COX: They’re the guys that got me this far, that’s for sure. It would be just unbelievably great. I’ve got my fingers crossed for both of them. Of course, Maddux, he’s won more ballgames, but Tommy topped .300. You talk about big game pitchers at the right time and if you’re in a losing streak and you’ve got Maddux or Glavine going, you always felt like you were going to win.
You talk about competitors, like Joe and Tony, you’re talking about two of the greatest competitors ever, Tommy Glavine did not go on the disabled list until his 19th or 20th year. And Maddux the same. Maddux was hit by a line drive. It was on his back down day in Kissimmee before the season opened and he was our opening day pitcher, and he got hit on the big toe on his right foot. And I went into the clubhouse with him in the cart and he finally got his shoe off and his toe was split wide open. And had to be stitched. And was swollen. I said, Mad Dog, we’re not going to make this. We’ve got to do something else. And he said put me in back of the rotation, we’ve got two days off in between, the fifth guy, don’t disable me. Threw a two hit shutout for 8 innings. It would be quite an honor to go in with those two guys that, as I said, got me this far.
Q. Congratulations. I imagine since you were all working, you’ve never been in an induction ceremony and I would think that this year is going to be incredibly special for you. As you project ahead what do you think July 28th is going to be like?
BOBBY COX: I’ve been to one induction ceremony, Mr. Pat Gillick, my GM in Toronto and farm director in the New York Yankees. I have experienced the chills when they get up there and speak. And I’m sure I’m going to have goose bumps, there’s no doubt about that. But I’m certainly looking forward to it, it’s quite a class, no matter who the writers are going to vote in, it’s going to be just tremendous. It’s an honor for me to say I’m proud to be a part of that.
TONY LA RUSSA: I’ve never been 2012 on a Saturday I was there with Whitey and Red. We had a party that weekend, I went there Sunday for Barry. But you realize that you want to offer thanks to the people that made it possible and I know there’s a trick to I’m going on forever, but you’ve got to do it justice. I think there’s also something about what you’ve learned. One thing I said I was signed as a kid, I’ve been in graduate school in baseball. So I’m never invented anything, but always somebody taught me something.
So you want to teach what you learned and express thanks to the family, because a lot of sacrifice from my wife and daughters. And finally you realize who is sitting behind you. And I don’t think I will honestly state I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable being part of that club. But I’m aware of who is sitting behind us.
JOE TORRE: I was at one. I watched when Tim McCarver was inducted. And just the whole buzz around Cooperstown that time of year is something very special. And I can’t tell you how I’m going to feel. All I know is, and Tony just said it, when you see who else is who’s there, and players who obviously have been inducted before you, and show up every year, it’s obviously special to them. And having admired these players, even though I may have played across the field or alongside of them and managed against some of them, the one thing about it, I love baseball. And whether you’re competing against someone or not, but you always admire the ones that should be admired.
And I’m not really sure how I’m going to feel, but I know it’s going to be a feeling I’ve never had before.