Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson presents the Hall of Fame plaque to inductee Tony La Russa during the Class of 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sunday.
Gregory J. Fisher / USA TODAY Sports
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Tony La Russa, third all-time in victories as a manager, has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
La Russa, now the Diamondbacks chief baseball officer, was enshrined Sunday in ceremonies at Cooperstown.
La Russa won 2,728 times in his long career, behind only Connie Mack and John McGraw. He was picked as manager of the year four times and won 12 division titles, six pennants and World Series titles in 1989, 2006, and 2011.
Signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1962, La Russa's six-year major league career as an infielder was forgettable. He batted .199 with no home runs in 132 games.
But after earning a law degree at Florida State University and giving managing a try in the minor leagues, he found his niche, was elevated to manage the Chicago White Sox in 1979, and his managing career took off. He won two championships with St. Louis and one with Oakland.
La Russa spoke from the heart during his induction. There was no written speech.
"It's uncomfortable because I didn't make it as a player. Not even close," said La Russa, who made his big league debut as a teenage infielder with the 1963 Kansas City Athletics and appeared in just 132 games over six seasons, hitting .199 with no home runs. "Since December, I have not been comfortable with it. There's no way to mention everybody, and that bothers me."
"From managing parts of two years in the minor leagues, after thinking about all the other young managers who paid a lot of dues in the minor leagues and I get a chance and then I go into the big leagues with three organizations," he said. "All that equates to me is I'm very, very fortunate. I've never put my arms around the fact that being really lucky is a Hall of Fame credential."