Tony La Russa Goes Back To The Future

The retired Cardinals manager couldn't stay away from baseball too long; he'll be helping out an old friend when spring training begins.

In 1982, Tony La Russa, then entering his third full season as manager of the Chicago White Sox, hired Jim Leyland, a manager in the Detroit Tigers farm system, as his third base coach.

The next season, the White Sox had the best record in the American League, winning 99 games, and Leyland's coaching reputation became such that he was hired by the Pittsburgh Pirates as their manager in 1986. That hiring began a career that has spanned 20 seasons for four clubs and resulted in six postseason appearances, two pennants and a World Series title (with the Marlins in 1997). La Russa and Leyland managed against each other in the 2006 World Series, won by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Now, La Russa is doing his old friend a favor, according to MLB.com:

La Russa, the longtime manager who retired after leading St. Louis to another World Series title last fall, will spend this Spring Training in camp with the Tigers in a non-uniform, non-official capacity. Leyland made the announcement while talking with reporters on Thursday after arriving at Joker Marchant Stadium.

"Tony's going to be down for a couple weeks," Leyland said. "He's going to work with Dave [Dombrowski] in the front office, and he's going over to Jupiter for a few days and then go out to Arizona for a few days. He will not be in uniform."

The presence of La Russa in Tigers camp will result in quite a reunion. Current Detroit third base coach Gene Lamont also managed the White Sox, though after La Russa's time, from 1992-95. Dombrowski, now the Tigers' general manager, was an assistant to White Sox GM Roland Hemond during La Russa's managerial tenure there. The article notes:

La Russa and Dombrowski were both let go around the same time by Hemond's successor, Ken Harrelson, and both went on to success elsewhere.

To coin a phrase: "Old managers never die; they just become special assistants."

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