MOBILE, AL -- In conjunction with the Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs, the Mobile BayBears announced that Tony La Russa was named to the Southern League's 2017 Hall of Fame class as a member of the Mobile Athletics. The 2017 class was elected by a panel of 20 voters.
La Russa began his playing career in 1962 for the Class-D, Daytona Beach Islanders after being signed as an amateur free agent by the Kansas City Athletics. After some time spent in the Minor Leagues and one season in "the Show," La Russa made his way to Double-A, Mobile, AL in 1966 after being called up from the Single-A, Modesto Reds.
During the 1966 season, La Russa posted a .294 average in 81 games helping lead the Mobile Athletics to a record of 88-52 which was good enough to capture the first Southern League Championship for the city of Mobile.
Mobile is not the only Southern League team that La Russa has spent time with. He will also be inducted as a member of the Birmingham Athletics, now the Birmingham Barons, of which he played for in 1967, for one season. Along with Mobile and Birmingham, La Russa will also be inducted as a member of the Knoxville Sox, now the Tennessee Smokies, where he began his managing career in 1978 before moving up to the Major Leagues as a coach with the Chicago White Sox after half of the season.
La Russa is most known for his coaching career. After becoming a coach for the White Sox he began his Hall of Fame career managing the club in 1979. He led the Oakland Athletics to a World Series Championship in 1989 and that was just one of three World Series titles La Russa would capture. He also won rings for the 2005 and 2011 St. Louis Cardinals before retiring from managing. La Russa then decided to take his career to the executive branch where he is now the Chief Baseball Analyst for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Tony La Russa won Manager of the Year four times and was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
The Southern League Hall of Fame was created in 2014. Each year, every club in the Southern League can nominate up to three players to be inducted. The nominees are then voted on by Southern League executives and the inductees are selected.
2017 Southern League Hall of Fame Class
Mobile BayBears (Mobile Athletics): Tony La Russa
Birmingham Barons (Birmingham Athletics): Tony La Russa
Tennessee Smokies (Knoxville Sox): Tony La Russa
Mississippi Braves (Greenville Braves): Tom Glavine
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Jacksonville Suns): Gabe Kapler
The BayBears season begins on the road April 6, with a five game series against the Chattanooga Lookouts. Mobile will return to Hank Aaron Stadium for the BayBears home opener against the Jackson Generals on April 12 at 6:35pm.
For more information on the Mobile BayBears, or for more information on purchasing tickets, call 251-479-BEAR (2327) or visit the official team website at www.mobilebaybears.com. You can also "Like" the Mobile BayBears on Facebook and follow the team on both Instagram and Twitter using the handle @Mobile_BayBears.