Joe Torre and Tony La Russa join long list of Cardinals in the Hall of Fame

Posted by Scott Wuerz on December 9, 2013 

A pair of former St. Louis Cardinals have been added to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Joe Torre, a player with the Cardinals in the late 1960s and early 1970s and manager in the first half of the 1990s , and Tony La Russa, skipper of the Redbirds from 1995-2011 were unanimously voted in as was former Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays manager Bobby Cox.

They will be inducted into the hall of Fame July 27.

Torre batted .308 over six seasons with the Cardinals. His best year was 1971 when he led the National League with a .363 batting average, 230 hits and 137 runs batted in. Acquired from the Atlanta Braves prior to the 1969 season in exchange for popular first baseman Orlando Cepeda, Torre was traded to the Mets in October 1974. He later managed all three teams for which he played including a 286-420 record in five season with the Mets, a 257-229 mark with the Braves which included an appearance in the National League Championship Series and a 351-354 record for the Cardinals.

Torre's stay in St. Louis came at an inopportune time as the Anheuser-Busch brewery lost interest in the club following the death of August A. Busch Jr. and cut the budget to the the bone before eventually selling to the current ownership group in 1995. The roster was pared of stars like Willie McGee, Terry Pendleton and Jon Tudor yet Torre managed to keep the club above the .500 mark for three of his four complete seasons in the manager's chair.

Of course, Torre made his mark as a manager guiding the New York Yankees during which time he won six pennants and four World Series and posted a 1,173-776 record. He finished with the Dodgers with a 259-227 mark in three seasons.

La Russa managed 33 years, 16 of them in St. Louis.

He guided the Chicago White Sox to a 522-510 record over 7 1/2 season before compiling a 798-673 mark in Oakland during which time he won three pennants and a World Series.

Where Torre's timing in St. Louis was bad, La Russa's was perfect. When the current ownership group led by Bill DeWitt Jr. purchased the Redbirds it committed to building a winning team and invested in both a new manager AND a strengthened roster.

La Russa was 1,408-1,182 with the Cardinals and won three pennants and two World Series championships. 

Previous Cardinals managers who have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame:

Charles Commiskey: 1893, 1894-1889, 1891. He was better known as owner of the Chicago White Sox. But he spend much of his playing career in St. Louis.

Tommy McCarthy: Managed St. Louis for 27 games in 1890. Credited with invention of the hit and run play.

Roger Connor: In 1896 he skippered the 39-92 St. Louis team. He was better known as the man who held the career home run record (138) prior to the emergency of Babe Ruth.

Kid Nichols: 1904-05. He was honored for his 361-208 pitching record, not for his short-lived managerial career.

Roger Breshnahan: The Duke of Tralee was player-manager for St. Louis from 1909-12. Credited with the invention of shin guards for catchers.

Miller Huggins: The famous Yankees manager got his start with the Cardinals in 1912 and stayed until 1917. Supposedly he got the job because owner Helene Britton found Breshnahan to be too gruff. Huggins is credited with helping Rogers Hornsby, his eventual replacement both at second base and, eventually, as skipper, refine his batting stroke. Hornsby went on the be the greatest right-handed hitter in baseball history with a .358 career average.

Branch Rickey: He's better known for his front office dealings which included the creation of the modern baseball farm system while working for the Cardinals and, later, breaking the color barrier by adding Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers roster. But Rickey's true passion was managing which he did from 1919-25.

Rogers Hornsby: He was promoted to player-manager in 1925 and led the Cardinals to their first World Series championship in 1926. Then he got fired for sparring with ownership and demanding a long-term contract. He was traded to the Giants for Frank Frisch before he even got his World Series ring.

Bill McKechnie: Another guy who made his name elsewhere, McKenchnie managed the Cardinals in 1928 and 1929. He's one of three managers in history to win three pennants with different teams including the 1928 flag with the Redbirds.

Bill Southworth: He was considered to be a managerial prodigy when he was promoted to become the skipper for St. Louis in 1929. But he was deemed to be too raw and was swapped out with minor league manager Gabby Street. He would return to manage the Cardinals from 1940-45 and during that time led St. Louis to three pennants and two World Series championships.

Frank Frisch: Became player-manager of the Cardinals in 1933 and led the team to the 1934 World Series title. He held the job until 1938.

Red Schoendienst: Except for a couple of years when he played for the Milwaukee Braves and the New York Giants, Schoendienst spent nearly his entire career in St. Louis. When manager Johnny Keene defected to the Yankees for the 1965 season and a deal to bring former Redbirds player Leo Durocher in to manage St. Louis, Schoendienst was the obvious choice. He was the winningest manager in Cardinals history prior to La Russa breaking his mark.

Whitey Herzog: Prior to a change in the rules that allowed La Russa and Torre to get into the Hall of Fame so quickly, Herzog had to wait 20 years for his call for enshrinement despite the fact that he revolutionized baseball in the 1980s with a return to the speed game. He won three pennants with the Cardinals and one World Series Championship while he managed the club from 1980-90.

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