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Tony La Russa named second-winningest manager in MLB history

Tony La Russa named second-winningest manager in MLB history

Tony La Russa steadfastly didn’t want to talk about his managerial win record until he surpassed John McGraw’s total for second-place all-time in Major League Baseball history.

La Russa avoided diverting attention from the impressive victories scored by his leading AL Central team, while following a one-day-at-a-time approach and trying not to anger the baseball gods, as he was joking.

But after a 3-0 win over the Tigers Sunday afternoon at guaranteed rate field that gave La Russa victory No. 2,764, the 76-year-old had time to reflect rather than celebrate. He thanked everyone who made that moment possible, from the owners he worked for, the coaches he worked with, the players he presided over and of course, his family.

“It feels very similar there towards the end of entering Cooperstown. It’s not just personal, ”La Russa said.

“Today was a perfect example: drafting the lineup, watching the pitching coaches prepare the starters and relievers, watching the hitting coach, watching the defensive coaches win back. [Adam] Engel.

“There really was nothing but cheerleaders. I think it’s a tribute to good luck. It is very emotional for me that it started here and ended here. I said in Cooperstown, never had a bad day, property, front office, player development, players and staff.

Dylan Cease was victorious in La Russa’s historic moment, striking out 10, walking one and allowing five hits in seven innings. He improved to 7-0 in seven career starts against the Tigers, getting offensive help from Tim Anderson and Nick Madrigal, who knocked out two hits each, and Anderson had two RBIs.

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Engel, who was reinstated from IL 10 days before the game and hit the eighth, homered away from Niko Goodrum to open the fifth on a drive to the center. That catch came after the center fielder ran onto Akil Baddoo’s line to open the game that looked eerily similar to a play in which Engel suffered his right hamstring injury during spring training.

After the victory, which moved the White Sox four games ahead of Cleveland’s second place in the American League Central, Engel pulled his jersey out of the laundry to get La Russa’s autograph honoring 2,764.

“There are many victories. Probably the best stat I think any professional can have is wins, ”Engel said. “You have guys who can hit a lot of home runs, they have a lot of strikeouts, but at the end of the day, you’re trying to win the game.

“Having so many victories, being part of so many victories, it’s incredible. It means a lot to me. Winning is the reason I play. Hearing that he has so many victories is an incredible achievement for him and his family. I am very happy to be a part of this.

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As is the case with many records dating back to the early days of baseball, there is some discrepancy in the all-time management win leaderboard. If you search online at sites like Baseball-Reference, you’ll see McGraw listed with 2,763 wins. However, according to Elias Sports Bureau, which is the official record holder of the MLB, McGraw actually had 2,840 wins, which keeps him 76 ahead of La Russa.

This discrepancy stems from the games McGraw’s teams won while he was absent due to illness. It is MLB policy to count these victories as long as the manager returns to the team, but other sources do not include these victories in their counts. (This same policy has also applied to newer managers such as Joe Torre and Terry Francona.) Thus, Sunday’s victory left La Russa 77 shy to overtake McGraw, at least on Elias’s official roster.

That said, the White Sox captain is well-positioned to move McGraw onto the Elias roster as early as next season. La Russa’s 2,764 victories place him far behind Connie Mack’s No. 1 total of 3,731. Mack also had 3,948 losses, making La Russa the all-time winning leader for a manager with a record above .500.

“Actually, I didn’t even think this was possible,” La Russa said. “I mean the last four or five years of my career. I didn’t think this was ever going to happen. Even the year I retired, my family was very upset because they wanted this to happen. But you go out when you think you’re done.

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Thirty-four years of management began for La Russa in 1979 with the White Sox and appeared to end with his third World Series championship as part of the Cardinals in 2011. Then the White Sox opportunity arose and he pulled La Russa out of his retirement to run a team that has a chance to win another title.

So, Sunday’s celebration will be short-lived. La Russa will enjoy Monday’s day off, ending a 27-game streak in 27 days during which the White Sox finished 17-10, and then prepare to face Toronto.

“Hopefully we get to October and our fans are excited,” said La Russa, who tipped his cap to fan applause after his brand was announced. “You get to October, anything can happen.

“There is no relaxation or taking anything for granted. He’s just getting ready to compete, see who’s good enough. Simple.” (GG) (MLB in Spanish)



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