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#pounditSaturday, December 5, 2020

Hall of Fame voters bothered by Tony La Russa’s return to managing

Tony La Russa

Tony La Russa’s decision to come out of retirement to manage the Chicago White Sox has not gone down well with everyone.

One notable group that is displeased by La Russa’s decision is the voters who elected him to the Baseball Hall of Fame. La Russa was selected in December 2013 by the Veterans Committee two years after retiring from the St. Louis Cardinals. At the time, that retirement looked final, which informed the committee’s decision to elect him.

Baseball Writers Association of America Secretary-Treasurer Jack O’Connell told MLB Network’s Jon Heyman that he was put off by La Russa’s return.

“If you’re asking me if that’s disturbing, my answer is yes,” O’Connell said. “We were all assuming his career was finished and the body of work was complete.”

Heyman added that the Veterans Committee historically works to ensure that managers are permanently retired before inducting them. That keeps standards similar to those of players, who have to be six years removed from their most recent MLB appearance before even becoming eligible for selection.

To be clear, it’s unlikely that La Russa could do anything in Chicago that would reduce the quality of his career enough that the induction looks like a mistake. On the other hand, the voter annoyance is understandable. The Hall of Fame takes itself and its integrity seriously. It very much seeks to ensure that the book is closed on its inductees before admitting them.

Ultimately, La Russa probably thought he was finished too. After all, it was reported amid Chicago’s interest that he had turned down previous overtures from other teams since retiring. This particular opportunity clearly appeals to him. The Hall of Fame will just have to live with that.

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