In the span of 21 years, from August 1990 to October 2011, the Cardinals had two fulltime managers: Joe Torre and Tony La Russa.
Torre managed the Cardinals from August 1990 until June 1995 and, after Mike Jorgensen filled in for three months as interim manager, was replaced by La Russa after the 1995 season.
Torre, La Russa, and former Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons are among the 12 candidates on the Expansion Era ballot for election to the Hall. A candidate needs 75 percent, or 12, of the votes from a 16-member committee that includes Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog, who preceded Torre as Cardinals manager. Voting results are announced Dec. 9, 2013.
If Torre and La Russa are elected, the Cardinals will have the distinction of having been led by Hall of Fame managers for 31 consecutive years (1980-2011).
In regular-season head-to-head competition, La Russa had a 15-11 record versus Torre. In the only time they faced one another in the postseason, Torre was 3-0 against La Russa.
Though their managing styles and personalities are different, La Russa and Torre have a respect and fondness for one another.
In May 2008, when Torre was in his first season as Dodgers manager, he told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he had accepted La Russa’s request to appear in an Animal Rescue Foundation calendar.
“He’s always been very open and congenial,” Torre said to Strauss about La Russa. “I’ve had dinner with him on occasions. I’ve worked his charity. I enjoy Tony a great deal. … He’s had great success. And the players play hard for him.”
Said La Russa of Torre: “He’s always been a class act, somebody you have a great deal of respect for.”
Asked about differences between the two, Torre told Strauss, “The fact that he’s smarter than I am. He used that ability to gain an edge with technology at times. … And I think he probably controls the game more than I do.”
Clash of the titans
Twice, La Russa and Torre were within a win of facing one another in a World Series. But each saw his team falter.
In 1996, when Torre managed the Yankees to an American League pennant, La Russa and the Cardinals won three of the first four games against the Braves in the National League Championship Series. But the Braves rallied and won the last three games to reach the World Series versus the Yankees.
In 2004, when La Russa and the Cardinals won the National League pennant, Torre and the Yankees beat the Red Sox in three of the first four games of the American League Championship Series. But the Red Sox won the last three games and got to the World Series against the Cardinals.
Asked in 2009 by Post-Dispatch writer Rick Hummel about a potential World Series matchup with La Russa, Torre replied, “We came close in ’96 and, of course, in ’04. La Russa messed it up in ’96 and I messed it up in ’04.”
La Russa and Torre first faced one another in June 2003 when the Cardinals played at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees swept the three-game series, outscoring the Cardinals, 23-8.
Afterward, La Russa told the Post-Dispatch, “I really don’t think the Yankees or Yankee fans think we’re all that good.”
Wrote Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz: “The anticipated clash of the titans never really materialized. Both franchises qualify as baseball royalty, but only the Yankees played up to their heritage.”
Two years later, June 2005, the Yankees entered a three-game series at St. Louis a game below .500, having lost nine of their last 11. Media speculation in New York was Torre’s job might be in jeopardy, even though he had won four World Series titles and six American League pennants with the Yankees.
When the Cardinals won the opener, 8-1, an embarrassed Torre told Miklasz, “We were too nonchalant. I was very surprised at how we let them (the Cardinals) run us off the field. We weren’t ready to play.” Boxscore
The Cardinals won two of the three games in that series. La Russa came to Torre’s defense, telling Miklasz, “He’s got more rings than anybody whose managed over the last 10 years. There isn’t anything different about his managing.”
Torre stayed with the Yankees through the 2007 season before joining the Dodgers in 2008. The move to the National League guaranteed La Russa and Torre would face one another.
La Russa and the Cardinals won four of six against Torre and the Dodgers in the 2008 regular season and five of seven in the 2009 regular season.
In the 2009 National League Division Series, however, Torre and the Dodgers swept the Cardinals. It was the last time La Russa lost a postseason game.
Wrote Miklasz after that series: “Torre warrants praise for winning the duel of future Hall of Fame managers.”
The last season La Russa and Torre faced one another was 2010. The Cardinals won four of seven regular-season games that year against the Dodgers.
La Russa ranks third in career wins for managers at 2,728 and Torre is fifth, with 2,326.
Previously: Mariano Rivera vs. Cardinals: 3 games, 3 saves