La Russa plays it safe by going logo-less into Hall of Fame

Tony La Russa managed 2,591 games with the Cardinals, which is more than the combined total (2,506) he managed with the White Sox and A's.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

ST. LOUIS — Since the morning Tony La Russa knew he was going to Cooperstown, he knew choosing a logo for his Hall of Fame plaque would be difficult.

"All I know is in no way do I want to disrespect Chicago, Oakland or St. Louis," La Russa said shortly after the Hall of Fame presser. "We have to figure something where they are not disrespected."

What La Russa figured, with guidance from the Hall of Fame, is that his plaque will not have a logo from any team.

He explained his decision in a statement: "The Chicago White Sox gave me my start in the game as a big league manager for my first eight seasons in my 33-year managerial career. In Oakland, we recorded four first-place finishes in 10 years, winning three pennants and a World Series. And in St. Louis, our clubs won three pennants and two titles in 16 years. It ‘s the totality of the success of each of those three teams that led me to Cooperstown, so I am choosing to not feature a logo so that fans of all clubs can celebrate this honor with me."

Yes, he makes a good point. If his career included only his 16 seasons in St. Louis, he probably would not have made the Hall. His 1,408 wins with the Cardinals would place him 26th on the all-time list, not in the third spot where he finished after including his 522 wins with the White Sox and 798 with the A’s.

Still, if I’m the Cardinals, I’d be feeling a little disrespected or, at least, a bit snubbed by La Russa’s decision.

If La Russa had chosen the Cardinals, nobody with the White Sox or the A’s would have been surprised. Why should they?

La Russa managed 2,591 games with the Cardinals, which is more than the combined total (2,506) he managed with the White Sox and A’s.

He won one World Series in his combined 17 years in Chicago and Oakland. He won two in his final six with St. Louis.

The White Sox and A’s have not retired his number, but the Cardinals have.

The Cardinals just last weekend made him part of their inaugural Hall of Fame class, and asked him to be on the committee to help select future players for the team’s Hall of Fame.

The way La Russa went out in 2011 will be remembered as one of the greatest farewells in any sport. And yes, he went out with the Cardinals, not the White Sox or the A’s.

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The Cardinals had not reacted to La Russa’s decision by mid-Thursday afternoon. I would be surprised if the club says anything other than it respects La Russa’s decision.

But that doesn’t mean that his decision doesn’t sting them a little.

La Russa wasn’t the only new inductee to decide to go in without a team. Greg Maddux chose not to include a Braves logo even though he won three of his four Cy Young awards in his 11 seasons with Atlanta.

The Hall works with inductees on their choice of logos but the decision ultimately falls on the Hall of Famer, as it should.

"For those whose compelling contributions clearly took place with one team, a logo makes sense," Hall president Jeff Idelson said in a statement. "For those whose careers were built significantly among multiple teams, not having a team logo is equally acceptable. Regardless of the selection, a Hall of Famer belongs to every team for which he played or managed, as well as every fan who followed his career."

That may be true, but Cardinals fans should not be blamed for feeling a little disappointed with La Russa’s decision.

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