ORLANDO — Tampa native Tony La Russa was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame today by the 16-man expansion era committee.
"A stunner," La Russa said. "I can categorically say I don't know that I'll ever be comfortable being part of the club."
Two other longtime managers were also elected: Bobby Cox and Joe Torre.
La Russa is the third-winningest manager of all time, going 2,728-2,365 (.536) in 33 seasons with the White Sox, A's and Cardinals and winning a World Series in Oakland and two in St. Louis.
"The best way to describe the feeling is stunned,'' La Russa said a press conference this morning at baseball's winter meetings. "I keep thinking back to the way I was raised. My parents will always tell you: Dream the big dream. And if you're a baseball fanatic, then playing in the big leagues, maybe part of the championship that was a dream, and pursued it and sometimes they come true. But never, ever was the Hall of Fame part of that dream, never. And so it's a stunner. But when you love baseball and you appreciate the history and the club that you've just been voted into, and your total respect, humility and honor, I say thank you.''
The only other Tampa native in the Hall of Fame, Al Lopez, also managed the White Sox. He was voted in by what was then called the veterans committee in 1977. (Though he grew up and still lives in Tampa, Wade Boggs was born in Omaha, Neb., and was 11 when his family moved to Tampa.)
La Russa got the call around 8:30 this morning and immediately began notifyinf friends and relatives - including his sister who still lives in Tampa - but said hours later it had still not sunk in, and maybe never would.
"I will honestly categorically state I don't think I'll ever feel comfortable being part of that club,'' he said.
Cox, La Russa and Torre were each named on all of the 16 electors' ballots, easily clearing the 75-percent level necessary for election. The Expansion Era Committee considered a ballot of six former players, four managers and two executives whose contributions to the game were most significant from 1973 to the present.
Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 will be held July 25-28 in Cooperstown, NY, with the Induction Ceremony slated for Sunday, July 27, 2014. The BBWAA election results will be announced at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Jan. 8.