“Joe was the best example of teaching a team the right way to win and lose,” La Russa said. “(Torre’s teams) never embarrassed you because they beat you, and I can’t say the same for other teams or other managers. Joe was first class.”
La Russa expressed a particular nostalgia about getting to manage in October.
“October is worth everything,” he said. “It’s the most exciting time.”
La Russa said all of his World Series wins were special. That was particularly true in 2011, when he retired after winning it all.
“It was like Fantasy Island the way it finished,” said La Russa, who didn’t describe that seven-game series against the Texas Rangers as an easy one. “You don’t usually win games by going to the bullpen early. It was more stressful.”
La Russa also spoke highly of the Hall, which he’ll officially enter after the 2014 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on July 27 at the Clark Sports Center. Cox and Torre will be there, along with Baseball Writers’ Association of America selections Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas.
“I’m just blown away by the organizational effort that goes into making this Hall of Fame and museum work,” he said.
Asked to pick a starting nine from the Hall of Fame pool that he’d like to manage, La Russa said: “Reggie Jackson had the very best answer I ever heard. As long as you’re in the conversation, that’s enough.”
La Russa said he could come up with a list of five or six players for each position, but he wouldn’t want to insult anyone by picking the best.
“You really can’t rate different eras,” he said.
La Russa works as a special assistant to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. In this capacity, he has helped craft MLB’s new instant replay rules.