Tony La Russa has been called many things in his life: baseball player, successful baseball manager, World Series champion, founder of Walnut Creek's Animal Rescue Foundation. Why, Sports Illustrated magazine once even used its cover to dub him "The Mastermind."
But this weekend La Russa earned a moniker that trumps them all: Hall of Famer.
It was announced that La Russa had been unanimously selected to receive Major League Baseball's highest honor, enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Although he seemed stunned by the announcement, it came as no surprise to us. It is an honor well deserved.
He served as a manager of the Chicago White Sox, the Oakland A's and the St. Louis Cardinals, compiling the third-highest number of wins of all time.
In fact, when he began with the White Sox, he was only 34 years old, one of the youngest people ever to manage a modern Major League baseball team.
La Russa had a deserved reputation as a fierce competitor who made a living by out-manuevering opponents, but, as Bud Geracie -- this paper's sports editor -- astutely pointed out recently in a recent column, La Russa's outflanking was usually the result of superior work ethic rather than superior intellect. He was relentless in his preparation and it showed.
La Russa was known to spend every waking hour -- and legend has it that there were a lot of those -- pondering and preparing for possible worst-case scenarios.
He will enter the Hall of Fame with fellow managers Bobby Cox and Joe Torre. A notable class, indeed.
While we certainly know La Russa for his exceptionally successful stint as manager of the A's, we also know him for his contributions to the communities in which he lives.
La Russa and his wife, Elaine, still live in Alamo and he regularly lends his name and support for a variety of charitable causes.
But his most remarkable cause is his creation of a foundation to help rescue animals. The Animal Rescue Foundation has grown from a man's vision into an enormous operation that greatly benefits abused and abandoned animals in the local community.
Not exactly a usual charity for an athlete, but La Russa is not a exactly a usual guy. In fact, he is an exceptional one and we are very proud to call him an East Bay resident.
We offer our sincere congratulations to Hall of Famer Tony La Russa.