Baseball Winter Meetings for 2013, held in Orlando at the Disney’s Swan & Dolphin Resort. Among other things, there was also a Job Fair, and a Trade Show. it runs from Monday to early Thursday afternoon and its always set in a different city each year.
I stopped by on Tuesday just because it was in my back yard. The buzz was in the air from all the big names roaming around nearby. Owners, executives, general managers, and coaches from all 30 MLB teams in one place. Some deals were made here this year. Yet, there are usually more stories then deals that come out of the winter meetings. There was even a story of a couple of agents having a scuffle in the parking lot over a player, one accusing the other of stealing him. A reporter caught it on video from afar with his cell phone. I’m not sure that the agents were ever identified.
But, the week started on Monday morning with a press conference to announce the Hall of Fame Induction of Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and Tony La Russa, a combined 93 years of MLB managerial experience. They were elected by a special Expansion Era Committee.
Bobby Cox played a couple of years for the New York Yankees in the late 1960’s as a back up infielder. He found his calling while managing in the Yankees’ minor league system and in Venezuela. He was the first base coach for the 1977 World Champion New York Yankees. That all set the table for his first MLB manager job with the Atlanta Braves. 32 years later he would lead his teams to 16 Division Titles, 5 Pennants, and 1 World Championship.
Joe Torre was a player for 18 years and was an All Star, a Gold Glove, an MVP, and a Batting Champion. But, he had zero play time in the post season. He actually started managing as a player manager for the New York Mets in 1977. Ironically enough, his second manager job was to replace a fired Bobby Cox for the Atlanta Braves. 28 years later, he would lead his teams to 13 Division Titles, 6 Pennants, and 4 World Championships. His Legendary run with the New York Yankees gave him something he never had as a player.
Tony La Russa played between 1962 and 1977. A good part of that time was spent in the minors, as he suffered a shoulder injury early on in a costly softball game with friends. His last MLB appearance as a player was a single game in Chicago with the Cubs where he scored a run. Another irony is that he would score his first manager job in Chicago with the White Sox in 1979. 33 years later, he led all 3 organizations he managed to the post season with 12 Division Titles, 6 Pennants, and 3 World Championships.
This doesn’t include the wild card births that all 3 managers took advantage of in post season competition. The Expansion Era is marked from1973 to present. And, when you talk about the changes of the game since, its impossible to leave the names of these 3 managers out of the conversation. Frank Thomas, Greg Maddox, and Tom Glavine were added to this Hall of Fame Class of 2014 a few weeks later, in January of 2014 through the regular ballot voting. Congratulations to all 6 new members.