Torre, La Russa, Cox to Cooperstown

Updated: December 10, 2013, 10:28 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox, baseball's winningest managers over the past four decades, were unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame on Monday by the expansion era committee.

All three won more than 2,000 games and were selected on all 16 ballots when the committee met Sunday ahead of baseball's winter meetings.

[+] EnlargeTony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox
AP Photo/John RaouxEx-managers, from left, Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox, together at the MLB winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., will be inducted July 27.

"Managing against them, you certainly learned things," said Torre, now an executive vice president for Major League Baseball. "I am honored to go into the Hall with these two guys."

The induction ceremony will be July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"They say when you're voted to the Hall of Fame your life changes," Cox said. "And it has. I've got goose bumps, and it's the greatest honor that we could ever have."

Torre became the fifth manager to win four World Series championships, leading the New York Yankees to titles in 1996 and from 1998 to 2000 -- beating Cox's Braves twice. After making only one trip to the playoffs in 14 seasons with the New York Mets, St. Louis and Atlanta, Torre guided the Yankees to the postseason in all 12 of his years in the Bronx with a cool, patient demeanor.

His popularity rankled owner George Steinbrenner, who didn't receive the necessary 75 percent of the vote for election in his second appearance on the ballot.

"I think it is a mistake," Yankees president Randy Levine told ESPNNewYork.com. "I congratulate Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa. All of them were thoroughly deserving, but I think there is no doubt that George Steinbrenner was one of the greatest figures in the history of the game. He, more than anybody, deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I fully expect he will be one day."

Torre finished his career by leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to two NL West titles in three seasons, retiring after 2010 with a record of 2,326-1,997. He's the only manager to have more than 2,000 hits as a player -- he was the 1971 NL MVP -- and 2,000 wins in the dugout.

"Joe taught a lot of us about how to win the right way and lose the right way," La Russa said.

The strategy-savvy La Russa won World Series titles with Oakland in 1989 and St. Louis in 2006 and 2011, retiring days after the Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers in a seven-game thriller. Of the nine managers with three or more World Series titles, the other seven all have been inducted.

"It's a stunner," said La Russa, who revealed he'd like to join a club front office, "I miss the winning and losing. ... Some day I'll be with a team, I think. I'd like to be part of the competition again."

La Russa finished with the third most wins by a manager in a career that began with the Chicago White Sox in 1979 and ended with a record of 2,728-2,365.

Cox's managerial career began in 1978 with Atlanta, but he was fired after four seasons -- only one above .500. A four-year run with Toronto ended in 1985 with an AL East title, and Ted Turner lured him back to the Braves as the team's GM. Cox returned to the dugout in 1990, and following one losing season he went on one of the most successful regular-season runs by any skipper, leading the Braves to 14 straight division titles and a World Series championship in 1995.

Torre I was always trying to be like blase about this, saying that it's something I never obsessed about, because I had no control over it. But when the phone call comes ... it hits you like a sledgehammer.

-- Joe Torre, now an executive VP
for Major League Baseball

He retired in 2010 fourth behind La Russa in career wins with a record of 2,504-2,001. Cigar-chomping and fiercely loyal to his players, Cox was ejected a major league record 159 times.

Two of his pitchers during the team's remarkable stretch during the '90s, 300-game winners Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, head the newcomers on this year's players' ballot. Results of voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of American is scheduled for Jan. 8.

"It would be quite an honor to go in with those two guys," Cox said. "I just hope Glav and Mad Dog can be on the stage with me. That would be the final finishing touch, going in with those two."

Marvin Miller, the pioneering head of the players' association from 1966 to 1981, was rejected for admission to the Hall for the sixth time he appeared on a committee ballot. He fell one vote short of induction in 2010 and received no more than six votes this year.

"Words cannot adequately describe the level of disappointment and disbelief I felt when learning that once again the Hall of Fame has chosen to ignore Marvin Miller and his unparalleled contributions to the growth and prosperity of Major League Baseball," players' association head Tony Clark said in a statement. "Over the past 50 years, no individual has come close to matching Marvin's impact on the sport. ... Despite the election results, Marvin's legacy remains intact and will only grow stronger, while the credibility of the Hall of Fame continues to suffer."

Former union chief Don Fehr also lamented Miller's nonelection, calling him the most important person to baseball in the second half of the 20th century, with Jackie Robinson being the most important in the first half.

"His positive impact on baseball simply can't be overestimated," Fehr said in a news release. "Marvin should have been elected to the Hall many years ago. It is a sad and sorry state of affairs that he has not been, and continues to reflect poorly on the very organization that has as its purpose recognizing and celebrating baseball's best."

This year's committee included Hall of Famers Rod Carew, Carlton Fisk, Whitey Herzog, Tom Lasorda, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan, Phil Niekro and Frank Robinson; Blue Jays president Paul Beeston; retired club executive Andy MacPhail; Phillies president Dave Montgomery; White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf; Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau; Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle; BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O'Connell; and retired Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Jim Reeves.

This year's ballot, chosen by a BBWAA-appointed historical overview committee, covers baseball's expansion era. Players, managers, umpires and executives whose most significant impact was from 1973 on were considered as part of a three-year cycle. The golden era (1947 to 1972) will be voted on in 2014 and the pre-integration era (1871 to 1946) will be judged in 2015.

Torre had an unusual experience when he learned of his election from Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark.

"I was always trying to be like blasé about this, saying that it's something I never obsessed about, because I had no control over it," he said. "But when the phone call comes and -- I hung up on Jane Clark the first time she called this morning, not meaning to, but I didn't have my glasses on -- it hits you like a sledgehammer."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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