Tony La Russa is the third most winingest coach of all time and took the Oakland Athletics to three straight World Series’ but only managed to come away with one despite being heavily favored. He also won 2 American League Manager of the Year awards with Oakland and stayed with the team until Walter Haas Jr, the owner of the team died and the family with whom he had close relations, sold the team. He is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the history of the game as he managed to transform every team he coached in to winners.
La Russa came to the Athletics after he was fired from the manager position for the Chicago White Sox. After only two years he took his team to the World Series and with heavy hitters, Mark Mcguire and Jose Canseco, and a stellar pitching rotation Oakland was favored but fate and the Los Angeles Dodgers had other plans as Kirk Gibson launched himself into history with a game one walk-off and a deflated A’s team wasn’t able to recover in the series losing in 5 games.
The very next year La Russa took them right back to the World Series and they swept the cross-bay rival San Fransisco Giants even after being interupted by an earthquake. The following year, the A’s returned for their third straight World Series but were promptly swept in 4 games by the Cincinnati Reds. The A’s were heavily favored all three years but only managed to come away with one world series title forever casting a shadow on what could have been one of the greatest dynasties in sports although the now ever prevelant steroid issue that rocked the game of baseball was heavily present in Oakland during those times as Canseco is seen as the godfather of steroid use.
The A’s then missed the playoffs the following year, but in 1992 La Russa again turned the team winning manager of the year for the second time in Oakland. The A’s were first in the AL West and but eventually lost in six games in the ALCS to the eventual world series champion, the Toronto Blue Jays. In 1993, the A’s finished 7th in the west and in 1994 a strike ended the season and playoff hopes of the team after being only one game behind the leader at the time, the Texas Rangers.
After another disappointing finish in 1995 along with the selling of the team, La Russa opted to go to the St. Louis Cardinals and left the A’s in the hands of Art Howe. La Russa would go on to win two world series titles for the cardinals and another manager of the year award. He retired from baseball after his final title in 2011. Coaches like Tony La Russa come around maybe once or twice in a generation and you can tell when any time he goes to becomes successful within a matter or years.