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  #1  
Old 02-17-2014, 10:34 AM
Lip Man 1 Lip Man 1 is offline
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Default Tony LaRussa Interview (Part I)...

Folks:

As you know in October I took the opportunity to begin writing for the Chicago Baseball Museum web site after 11 years at WSI.

Because my basketball duties were getting ready to begin and Idaho State had a road heavy schedule this season, I decided to update some interviews that I originally did for WSI by contacting the players, finding out what was going on with their lives today and submitting those to the CBM site because of the time factor. I redid my interviews with Ray Herbert, Walt Williams, Ken Berry and Pete Ward in this manner including new photos. I also did an obit and a look back at the career of Ed Herrmann when he passed away and released again a great interview with the late Chuck Tanner. (All those interviews can be found at the CBM web site.)

But because over the Holidays, ISUís schedule only had one game in three weeks I wanted to take a shot on a brand new interview. To that end, Pat Courtney from MLB helped arrange an interview with former Sox manager Tony LaRussa. I spoke with Tony for 2 Ĺ hours shortly after Christmas. Iíve been told by some this is a coup since Tony, especially in his final seasons with the Cardinals didnít like to spend a lot of time with the media.

Tony seemed to really be enjoying himself during our conversation and we touched on a number of subjects surrounding his time on the South Side. The interview when transcribed totaled over six thousand words.

Part 1 of the interview has just been released on the Chicago Baseball Museum web site.

Here is the link to it: http://www.chicagobaseballmuseum.org...a-20140217.pdf

This part focuses on Tonyís background, how the circumstances came about to where he was offered the Sox managerial job and how the foundation was laid for the 1983 championship season.

Iíll send along the link to part 2 when itís released.

I hope you enjoying reading Tonyís opinions and memories. If you have any comments or questions feel free to list them in this thread, or e-mail me directly at: mliptak1@msn.com


Lip
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  #2  
Old 02-17-2014, 11:35 AM
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Nice job, Lip -- a very enjoyable read. Before halfway through the 1983 season (when that team caught fire), I recall Sox fans being pretty tough on Tony. Tony was young, handsome, and well-educated -- he didn't look the part of what a lot of Sox fans back then thought their manager should look and sound like. Consequently, I thought he got a lot of undeserved criticism -- much of it fueled by Harry and Jimmy. What do you think?
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:05 PM
Lip Man 1 Lip Man 1 is offline
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Chez:

There is no short answer to this. Maybe the best way to put it was that Harry and Jimmy weren't only tough on Tony but on the team as a whole. They had reason to, this was a talented club that simply wasn't getting it done.

Remember in 1982 the Sox started out 20-10, but by mid July had dropped back to the .500 mark after a disasterous series in Milwaukee. Ron Scheuler, Tony's pitching coach was fired over it.

1983 started off so poorly that JR and EE actually brought in Bobby Winkles, a former Sox base coach to evaluate the entire situation. If Bobby had said a change was needed Tony was out the door according to EE.

Bobby however said in so many words, 'boys...don't worry about it. It's gonna turn around...' And history shows it did.

For a little more insight here is my interview with Jimmy Piersall:

http://www.whitesoxinteractive.com/r...ory=11&id=2852

In part II of my conversation with Tony, he gets into why the team started slowly, how he tried not to let the talk of firing impact him and something that I had long suspected (from comments told to me by others) that Tony was close to returning as manager after Gene Lamont got the boot.

Lip
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:13 PM
TheVulture TheVulture is offline
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I hope you gave him a good grilling regarding his major role in establishing the widespread usage of steroids in our beloved game.

I guess based on your comment that LaRussa really enjoyed himself, no. A nice game of softball, eh?
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Old 02-17-2014, 02:31 PM
Noneck Noneck is offline
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As usual another great start to an interview. I assume the sportsvision thuggery by larussa and his goons on Piersall were either too uncomfortable to bring up or off base in his eyes.

Great scoop Lip on getting a Hall of Famer interview.
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Old 02-17-2014, 02:51 PM
TomBradley72 TomBradley72 is offline
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Always was a big LaRussa fan during his time in Chicago- a horrible White Sox team went 27-27 after he took over the team from Kessinger- he made some sound moves that made the best of the limited talent on the roster.

I've always wondered "what if"? JR hadn't made the two mistakes of letting Hemond go after an 85 win season in '85, followed by letting LaRussa go in early '86-
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Old 02-17-2014, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheVulture View Post
I hope you gave him a good grilling regarding his major role in establishing the widespread usage of steroids in our beloved game.
I assume you have some actual evidence of LaRussa himself injecting players with steroids?

Don't give me some BS about LaRussa turned the other way. All the higher-ups in MLB turned the other way.
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Old 02-18-2014, 01:15 AM
Lip Man 1 Lip Man 1 is offline
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Vulture:

Since the accusations surrounding steroids and potentially Tony looking the other way might have taken place after he was gone from the White Sox, no that was not brought up by me. It was not relevant to the interview and his days in Chicago.

Tom:

Tony specifically answers "what if" he had stayed Sox manager for 30 years in part II.

Noneck:

Actually I didn't know I was going to interview Tony until less than a day before I placed the call. My research was forced and frankly I didn't think of asking about the Piersall / SportsVision incident. It simply didn't register. That's on me.

Lip
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:59 AM
slavko slavko is offline
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I wouldn't have hardballed the interview either, Lip. The guy is an icon. That was the softcore version of why Kessinger left so suddenly, though. I miss you around here.
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Old 02-18-2014, 11:30 AM
TheVulture TheVulture is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FielderJones View Post
I assume you have some actual evidence of LaRussa himself injecting players with steroids?

Don't give me some BS about LaRussa turned the other way. All the higher-ups in MLB turned the other way.
Rrrrriiiiiiiiigggggghhhhhhhht.
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Old 02-18-2014, 11:30 AM
TheVulture TheVulture is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lip Man 1 View Post
Vulture:

Since the accusations surrounding steroids and potentially Tony looking the other way might have taken place after he was gone from the White Sox, no that was not brought up by me. It was not relevant to the interview and his days in Chicago.

Lip
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Old 02-18-2014, 12:11 PM
Lip Man 1 Lip Man 1 is offline
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Slavko:

Well I do know the story of the conversation between Bill Veeck and Kessinger which led both men to conclude it was best that a change be made.

However I don't think anybody really considered Tony a contender for the position but Bill was always high on Tony's ability and he was never one to turn down an opportunity to 'make news' by doing something different.

Lip
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Old 02-21-2014, 08:26 PM
TDog TDog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomBradley72 View Post
Always was a big LaRussa fan during his time in Chicago- a horrible White Sox team went 27-27 after he took over the team from Kessinger- he made some sound moves that made the best of the limited talent on the roster.

I've always wondered "what if"? JR hadn't made the two mistakes of letting Hemond go after an 85 win season in '85, followed by letting LaRussa go in early '86-
Really, it's only one mistake that had cascading consequences. Replacing Hemond with Harrelson led to Harrelson firing LaRussa.

Many White Sox fans from those days still dislike LaRussa and remember Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall fondly, but posterity at large will remember Tony LaRussa as a baseball genius, Harry Caray as a drunk, if not an occasionally racist drunk, and Jimmy Piersall as crazy. And I'm not so sure that isn't a fair analysis.

And baseball historians will be a lot kinder to Roland Hemond than they will Ken Harrelson.
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Old 02-21-2014, 09:08 PM
Noneck Noneck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TDog View Post

Many White Sox fans from those days still dislike LaRussa and remember Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall fondly, but posterity at large will remember Tony LaRussa as a baseball genius, Harry Caray as a drunk, if not an occasionally racist drunk, and Jimmy Piersall as crazy. And I'm not so sure that isn't a fair analysis.

LaRussa is a hall of famer, Caray is also. Problems with alcohol they both had. How you can say that one will be remembered as a baseball genius and the other a drunk baffles my mind.
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Old 02-22-2014, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
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LaRussa is a hall of famer, Caray is also. Problems with alcohol they both had. How you can say that one will be remembered as a baseball genius and the other a drunk baffles my mind.
Harry Caray is in the announcer's wing, which has a lot to do with longevity. That doesn't approach the honor Tony LaRussa earned. Even when he was with St. Louis, which was owned by a brewery, he was known as being as much a beer salesman as a baseball announcer. Even in a television interview concerning his firing by the Budweiser-owned team, he held a can Schlitz prominently while answering the reporter's questions to stick it to his former employer.

I think the current consensus of Harry Caray around the country is that he was a drunk who called baseball games. That's pretty much the way he was parodied on Saturday Night Live years ago.

It baffles my mind that someone could be baffled by my assessment.
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