Archive for the ‘Managers’ Category

Their given names were John and George.

Their baseball names were Sonny and Sparky.

sonny_rubertoTogether, they contributed to a standard of teaching that has become a hallmark of the Cardinals.

Sonny Ruberto, mentored by Sparky Anderson in the Cardinals organization, influenced St. Louis players and prospects from 1977-81 as a big-league coach and minor-league manager.

Ruberto, 68, died March 24, 2014, near Naples, Fla.

Two of his pupils in the Cardinals system, Jim Riggleman and John Stuper, carry on with reputations as first-rate instructors. Riggleman, who managed four big-league teams, is manager of the Reds’ Class AAA Louisville club. Stuper, who started and won Game 6 of the 1982 World Series for the Cardinals, is head coach of the Yale University baseball team.

George “Sparky” Anderson, who built a Hall of Fame career as manager of the Reds and Tigers, was 30 when he began his managerial career with Class AAA Toronto in 1964. A year later, he became a manager in the Cardinals system.

John “Sonny” Ruberto was 24 when he began his managerial career with the Padres’ Class A Lodi club in 1970. At 31, he became the youngest coach in the major leagues when he joined the staff of first-year Cardinals manager Vern Rapp in 1977.

Cardinals prospect

A standout catcher at Curtis High School in Staten Island, N.Y., where he played with other future major leaguers such as Terry Crowley and Frank Fernandez, Ruberto signed with the Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1964. Two years later, he was on a Class A St. Petersburg team managed by Anderson.

In a 1966 game that began on June 14 and ended at 2:30 a.m. on June 15, the visiting Miami Marlins beat St. Petersburg, 4-3, in 29 innings. “It was the darndest thing I’ve ever seen,” Anderson told The Sporting News.

Ruberto played all 29 innings _ the first nine as catcher and the last 20 at shortstop. He had two hits in 10 at-bats and scored a run.

Ruberto hit .283 in 88 games for St. Petersburg. The next year, he played for the Cardinals’ Class A Modesto club, managed by Anderson.

On May 22, 1969, the Cardinals traded Ruberto and second baseman John Sipin to the Padres for infielder Jerry DaVanon and first baseman Bill Davis. Ruberto made his big-league debut as a player with the Padres that month.

Big Red Machine

After a season managing Lodi, Ruberto in 1971 joined the Reds organization, where he was reunited with two key figures from his Cardinals days: Anderson (the Reds’ manager) and Bob Howsam, the former Cardinals general manager who took over the same role with Cincinnati.

Ruberto resumed his playing career and was sent to Class AAA Indianapolis. His manager there for the next five years, 1971 through 1975, was Rapp. As catcher, Ruberto was credited with helping the progress of several Reds pitching prospects, including Joaquin Andujar, Ross Grimsley, Tom Hume, Milt Wilcox and Pat Zachry.

“I feel I had something to do with their development,” Ruberto told The Sporting News.

When Rapp was named Cardinals manager, replacing Red Schoendienst, for the 1977 season, he selected Ruberto to be the first-base coach.

Wrote The Sporting News: “Like Rapp, Ruberto had been a career Triple-A catcher highly regarded for his ability to handle pitchers. Ruberto even has some ideas on helping Ted Simmons improve his backstopping duties.”

Rapp was brought to the Cardinals to instill discipline. At spring training in 1977, The Sporting News reported, “Rapp sized up his charges to make sure that the regulation baseball uniforms were worn properly. He had coach Sonny Ruberto demonstrate how he wanted the uniforms worn.”

At the helm

Rapp was fired in April 1978 and replaced by Ken Boyer. After the season, two of the coaches Boyer had inherited, Ruberto and Mo Mazzali, were replaced by Schoendienst and Dal Maxvill.

The Cardinals, though, kept Ruberto in the organization, naming him manager of the 1979 St. Petersburg club, succeeding Hal Lanier, who was promoted to Class AAA Springfield.

“What kind of manager will I be?” Ruberto said in response to a question from the St. Petersburg Times. “Well, a little of Vern Rapp, a little of Sparky Anderson, a little of Billy Martin and a lot of Sonny Ruberto.”

St. Petersburg finished 64-71, but the Cardinals were pleased with how their prospects, such as Stuper and fellow starting pitcher Andy Rincon, developed under Ruberto.

In 1980, Ruberto managed the Cardinals’ Class AA Arkansas team to an 81-55 record and a Texas League championship. Stuper had a 7-2 record for Arkansas. Riggleman, a third baseman, hit .295 with 21 home runs and 90 RBI in 127 games.

Ruberto managed the Cardinals’ Class A Erie team to a 44-30 record in 1981.

He operated a photography business in St. Louis and resided there with his family for 26 years.

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In 33 years as a major-league manager, Tony La Russa was fired once. The man who replaced him was Jim Fregosi. A key factor why the White Sox chose Fregosi to succeed La Russa was because of the work Fregosi did in mentoring Cardinals prospects. One of those prospects, Jose Oquendo, became a Cardinals coach for La Russa on his staff in St. Louis and together they won three National League pennants and two World Series titles.

jim_fregosiHow’s that for connecting the dots?

Fregosi, who died Feb. 14, 2014, managed the Cardinals’ Class AAA Louisville club from 1983 until he replaced La Russa as White Sox manager in June 1986. Among the prospects managed by Fregosi at Louisville were Vince Coleman, Danny Cox, Ken Dayley, Ricky Horton, Tito Landrum, Greg Mathews, Oquendo, Terry Pendleton, Andy Van Slyke and Todd Worrell. Seventeen of the players on the 1985 National League championship Cardinals club played for Fregosi at Louisville.

Path to the majors

A six-time all-star shortstop for the Angels in the 1960s, Fregosi managed the Angels from 1978-81, leading them to their first division title in 1979, before he was fired and replaced by Gene Mauch. After sitting out the 1982 season while running a food brokerage business, Fregosi became Louisville manager in 1983. (Lee Thomas, the Cardinals’ director of player development, had been an Angels teammate of Fregosi and was instrumental in bringing him into the St. Louis organization.)

Louisville won back-to-back American Association championships (1984-85) under Fregosi. But, with Whitey Herzog entrenched as Cardinals manager, Fregosi’s best hope of managing again in the major leagues was with another organization. The Mariners had contacted him, but Fregosi was seeking an opportunity with a franchise that gave him a chance to win.

In June 1986, White Sox general manager Ken “Hawk” Harrelson fired La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan. The White Sox were 26-38 and Harrelson had been clashing often with La Russa and Duncan. “The record is not indicative of the talent involved,” Harrelson told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Fregosi was Harrelson’s first choice. Harrelson had sent scouts to Louisville and their reports on Fregosi were glowing, the Sun-Times reported.

Tireless teacher

Here is what others said about Fregosi’s work in the Cardinals system:

_ Rick Bozich, columnist, Louisville Courier-Journal: “When you roll the highlights films of what Fregosi has accomplished in Louisville, the two American Association championships won’t even make the top 10. No, the lingering images will be of the consistently long hours he worked developing the young players who carried the St. Louis Cardinals to the 1985 National League pennant and the wonderfully tranquil clubhouses he presided over. There was never a reason to check Fregosi’s time card. He reported to Cardinal Stadium at 2 every afternoon. One day he’d be in the cage convincing Vince Coleman he could make millions chopping down on the ball; the next day you could find him in the bullpen tinkering with Todd Worrell’s fastball grip.”

_ Mo Mozzali, Cardinals scout: “As fantastic as Jimmy has been for baseball in Louisville, he’s done even more for the players in the Cardinals organization. I’ve never seen anybody better working with young players.”

_ Dyar Miller, Louisville pitching coach: “Jim is a great teacher. He works on the field for three or four hours before every game, on theories of hitting, turning the double play, getting ready to pitch in the bullpen, whatever.”

_ Tony La Russa to the Sun-Times after learning Fregosi had replaced him: “When Jim Fregosi was in this league (as Angels manager), I thought he did an outstanding job. He’s been ready to manage in the big leagues for several years.”

Tales from Tony

White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said La Russa told him, “If you have to fire me, hire Jim (Fregosi) or Jim Leyland … Fregosi is a good manager. I like him.”

La Russa went to the Athletics and won three American League pennants and a World Series title before joining the Cardinals and completing a managerial career that has earned him election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Fregosi managed the White Sox from 1986-88, then had stints as manager of the Phillies (1991-96) and Blue Jays (1999-2000). He won a National League pennant with the 1993 Phillies.

In 1996, La Russa’s first season as Cardinals manager, he was asked by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about Fregosi during a series with the Phillies in St. Louis.

La Russa replied, “The old line had me asking, ‘What does Fregosi have that I don’t have?’ The answer was, ‘Your job.’ “

Previously: Dyar Miller gets justly rewarded for loyalty to Cardinals

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A tip of the cap to Sparky Anderson.

He did what Tony La Russa could not: choose a team logo to display on the cap for his plaque in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

sparky_andersonAnderson and La Russa are the only managers who won World Series titles with teams from both the National League and American League. Anderson was a role model for La Russa and mentored him.

But La Russa differed from Anderson on the controversial cap choice.

La Russa, elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in December 2013, said he chose not to have a team logo on the cap for his plaque because he didn’t want to disrespect any of the three teams _ White Sox, Athletics and Cardinals _ he managed.

Because he won two of his three World Series titles with the Cardinals, became the all-time leader in wins (1,408) among Cardinals managers and spent 16 of his 33 years as a manager with St. Louis, La Russa disappointed many Cardinals loyalists, including club owner Bill DeWitt Jr., with his decision.

Contrast La Russa’s choice with that of Anderson’s:

Anderson, elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000, chose to have a Reds logo on the cap for his plaque _ even though he was fired in Cincinnati and spent nearly twice as many years managing the Tigers as he did the Reds.

Cardinals connection

The reason for Anderson’s decision had roots from his three years as a minor-league manager in the Cardinals’ system.

Anderson said he chose the Reds cap for his plaque as a tribute to Bob Howsam.

As Reds general manager, Howsam hired Anderson to manage Cincinnati, launching him onto his Hall of Fame career.

As Cardinals general manager, Howsam saved Anderson’s career by hiring him to manage in the St. Louis system.

Anderson was unemployed after being fired as manager of Class AAA Toronto in 1964. In March 1965, Fred Koenig resigned as manager of the Cardinals’ Class A Rock Hill team. With the start of the season near, Howsam was scrambling to find a replacement.

Howsam took a chance on Anderson.

Anderson managed Rock Hill to a 59-63 record.

In 1966, the Cardinals named Anderson manager of Class A St. Petersburg. He led St. Petersburg to a 91-45 record and strengthened his reputation within the Cardinals organization as a first-rate instructor.

Howsam left St. Louis to become general manager of the Reds in January 1967. The Cardinals named Anderson manager of Class A Modesto. He led Modesto to a 79-61 mark and the league championship.

In the fall of 1967, Howsam wooed Anderson into the Reds organization as a minor-league manager at Class AA Asheville. Two years later, Oct. 9, 1969, Howsam introduced Anderson as manager of the Reds.

“He hired a 35-year-old nobody knew and he had the courage and fortitude to do that,” Anderson told the Associated Press in February 2000, explaining why Howsam inspired him to select a Reds cap for the plaque. “Had he not done that, I doubt very much, in all honesty, that I would have managed in the major leagues. And I owe that to him.”

Anderson won two World Series titles and four pennants with the Reds and posted an 863-586 record. Howsam retired after the 1977 season and was replaced by Dick Wagner, who, after one year on the job, fired Anderson in 1978.

The next year, the Tigers hired Anderson. He led them to the 1984 World Series title and earned 1,331 wins with Detroit from 1979-95.

Sparky: Tony isn’t a bozo

When La Russa became a big-league manager in 1979, with the White Sox, he sought advice from many, including Anderson.

“I never saw anyone catch on as fast as he did,” Anderson said of La Russa in the book “Tony La Russa: Man on a Mission” (2009, Triumph). “When you talk to him, you realize he is very intelligent. You’re not talking to a bozo. He learned so fast, you were never going to trick him. He knew what was going on. I always played him straight up, but I never let him play any tricks on me either.”

Said Roland Hemond, general manager of the 1979 White Sox: “Tony was smart enough to pick up the wisdom those guys were willing to pass along. I don’t think Sparky would have spent so much time with him if he thought he was talking to a guy who would not be around very long.”

After the 1995 season, when La Russa was trying to decide whether to leave the Athletics for the Cardinals, Anderson was an influencer in his decision.

“Going to the National League wasn’t something I considered initially,” La Russa wrote in his book “One Last Strike” (Morrow, 2012). “Several people, including Sparky Anderson, told me that I’d love it, and when the name St. Louis came up, I started to think seriously about it.”

His success with St. Louis sealed La Russa’s election to the Hall of Fame _ even if his cap won’t reflect that.

Previously: Cardinals boosted Sparky Anderson’s managing career

Previously: Tony La Russa: Proud pupil of mentor Paul Richards

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Winning the 2006 World Series championship with the Cardinals sealed for Tony La Russa his eventual election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

tony_larussa12By joining Sparky Anderson as the only managers to win World Series titles in both the National League and American League, La Russa elevated himself into a special class.

La Russa and managers Joe Torre and Bobby Cox were elected to the Hall of Fame on Dec. 9, 2013. Each received 16 unanimous votes from the Expansion Era committee. Whitey Herzog, who, like La Russa and Torre, managed the Cardinals, was one of the voters. Former Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons was one of 12 candidates on the ballot but wasn’t elected.

La Russa (2,728), Cox (2,504) and Torre (2,326) rank third, fourth and fifth in career wins for managers, trailing only Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763).

Herzog, Torre and La Russa managed St. Louis from 1980-2011, giving the Cardinals the distinction of having been led by Hall of Fame managers for 31 consecutive years.

High expectations

The Cardinals fired Torre in June 1995 and, after Mike Jorgensen finished that season as interim manager, La Russa joined the Cardinals in October 1995 after resigning as Athletics manager.

La Russa had won a World Series title and three consecutive American League pennants with the Athletics. In his first 10 seasons in St. Louis, he led the Cardinals into the National League playoffs six times and won a pennant in 2004.

But the expectation was he would win a World Series title with the Cardinals.

Doing so with the 2006 Cardinals _ a club that won just 83 regular-season games and ranked fifth in the league in pitching and sixth in both batting and defense _ capped La Russa’s reputation for managerial excellence.

The 2006 World Series championship, achieved in five games against the Tigers, was the Cardinals’ first in 24 years (when Herzog led St. Louis against the Brewers in 1982).

Here is what a couple of St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnists wrote of La Russa after the 2006 championship:

_  Jeff Gordon: “If this is the worst team to ever win a World Series championship, as some will argue, then La Russa’s managerial performance ranks as his greatest effort. … By winning the World Series, La Russa has cemented his place in baseball history.”

_ Rick Hummel: “His reputation here this year has been enhanced by his ability to guide a talented yet flawed club through injury, illness and overzealous expectations.”

Classic Cardinal

Four Cardinals players in the Hall of Fame _ Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Bob Gibson and Lou Brock _ were on hand to witness the clinching of the 2006 World Series championship in Game 5 at St. Louis. All four “applaud La Russa as an equal,” Hummel wrote.

La Russa capped his career with another World Series title with the Cardinals in 2011. That was another exceptional achievement _ La Russa became the first Cardinals manager to win two World Series crowns since Hall of Famer Billy Southworth did it in the 1940s _ but by then his reputation as being of Hall of Fame caliber already was secured because of what he accomplished in 2006.

Mike Shannon, the club broadcaster who played for Cardinals teams that won two World Series titles and three pennants in the 1960s, provided the Post-Dispatch with the most concise and astute analysis of La Russa after the 2006 World Series.

“There’s no doubt he’s going into the Hall of Fame as a manager,” Shannon said in October 2006. “… The people who really understand the game know his worth, his greatness.

“His value and his greatness will be appreciated more in his absence than in his presence.”

Previously: Big 3: Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog, Tony La Russa

Previously: Great debate: When Tony La Russa first batted pitcher eighth

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(Updated Dec. 9, 2013)

In the span of 21 years, from August 1990 to October 2011, the Cardinals had two fulltime managers: Joe Torre and Tony La Russa.

larussa_torreBoth will enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame together.

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 fellow manager Bobby Cox were elected to the Hall of Fame on Dec. 9, 2013, by the Expansion Era committee. A candidate needed 75 percent, or 12, of the votes from the 16-member committee that included Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog, who preceded Torre as Cardinals manager.

With Torre and La Russa elected, the Cardinals 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.

Mutual respect

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.”

Postseason duel

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

Previously: How Joe Girardi became a member of Cardinals family

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(Updated Dec. 9, 2013)

Ted Simmons was a key to Joe Torre being able to return to big-league managing in 1990 after a six-year hiatus. Without help from Simmons, Torre might never have gotten the chance to revive his career.

simmons_torreTwenty-three years later, Simmons and Torre were two of 12 candidates on the Expansion Era ballot for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Simmons, nominated as a catcher, wasn’t elected; Torre, nominated as a manager, was elected. Another former Cardinals manager, Tony La Russa, also was elected.

A candidate needed 75 percent, or 12, of the votes from a 16-member committee to earn election. Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog was one of those voters.

It was Herzog who triggered the chain of events that led to Torre becoming manager of the Cardinals.

Support for Simmons

On July 6, 1990, Herzog, the Cardinals’ manager since 1980, abruptly resigned.

Cardinals coach Red Schoendienst was named interim manager while general manager Dal Maxvill launched a search for Herzog’s replacement.

There was media speculation and popular sentiment for Simmons to get the job. The former St. Louis catcher was the Cardinals’ director of player development, overseeing the minor-league system.

Five days after Herzog quit, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz opined that Simmons should be the manager.

Wrote Miklasz: “Simmons makes sense for a lot of reasons. The manager must be a motivator, someone who can communicate with the millionaires in the dugout. Simmons … has fresh perspective on what makes today’s players click. And he’s wired. His high energy level is bound to be contagious. Maxvill said the new man must be intelligent … Simmons would beat Tony La Russa at ‘Jeopardy.’ “

Two days later, in an interview with Vahe Gregorian of the Post-Dispatch, Simmons ended the speculation. “It’s flattering to have people asking me every five minutes if I’m going to be the next manager,” Simmons said. “But, however flattering, it’s not my objective. It’s safe and fair to say I won’t be the next manager. I don’t have any interest.”

After that, attention turned to Torre.

Friends in high places

Fired by the Braves in 1984, Torre became an Angels broadcaster. Six years later, he admitted he largely had abandoned hope of managing again.

Herzog’s surprise resignation provided the opportunity; Maxvill and Simmons provided the support.

Torre and Maxvill were friends and former teammates. They had played together for the Cardinals from 1969-72. Maxvill was on his coaching staffs when Torre managed the Mets and Braves.

Simmons was a Cardinals rookie when St. Louis acquired Torre from the Braves in March 1969. Torre, a five-time all-star catcher before converting to first baseman, became a mentor to Simmons, who was being groomed to replace Tim McCarver as the everyday catcher. Torre and Simmons were Cardinals teammates from 1969-74 and often batted back-to-back in the St. Louis order.

In late July 1990, Torre told the Los Angeles Times he would enjoy working with Maxvill and Simmons. “It would be the first time I’d be working with somebody instead of for somebody,” Torre said. “That can only be ideal.”

Maxvill told the Post-Dispatch he had seven candidates: Torre, big-league coaches Don Baylor, Hal Lanier, Pat Corrales and Gene Tenace, Class AAA Louisville manager Gaylen Pitts and Cardinals minor-league hitting instructor Mike Jorgensen. Torre, though, was the leading candidate all along.

When Torre was named Cardinals manager on Aug. 1, 1990, Herzog told Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch, “I don’t know why they didn’t do it on July 7 (the day after Herzog’s resignation). He was going to be the guy.”

Tips from Ted

With eight Cardinals eligible for free agency after the 1990 season, Herzog also said Torre would have to rely on Simmons for advice on which prospects were ready to contribute at the big-league level.

Torre agreed, telling the Post-Dispatch, “I’m going to pretty much take the rest of this season to work with Dal and Ted Simmons and make sure that when we go out there in 1991 we’re going in the right direction.

“I’m looking to Ted Simmons to see where it’s coming from.”

Wrote Miklasz: “Simmons will develop the prospects for Maxvill. Maxvill will pass them … along to Torre. Torre will manage. Presenting: The Three Amigos. United, they stand.”

Said Torre: “It’s going to be very comfortable working with people that I know so well. We were teammates. We were taught the game the same way. We played together and now we’re working together.”

Maxvill elaborated to the Post-Dispatch about the relationship between Torre and Simmons.

“When Ted came up, Joe was his mentor,” Maxvill said. “Joe told him about the league, about opposing pitchers, about what to expect in situations, told him how to handle our pitching staff. I knew they had a good relationship and that their baseball philosophy was pretty much the same.

“That’s helpful. If we go through our minor-league system, we don’t like to have eight or 10 different opinions about the way cutoffs or rundowns or relays should be done. With all of us being pretty much brought up on the Cardinal Way _ through George Kissell, all of us _ I think we’ll be able to pull the wagon in the same direction from that standpoint.”

The Three Amigos, however, didn’t stay together long.

Simmons left the Cardinals in 1992 to become general manager of the Pirates. Maxvill was fired in 1994 and, a year after that, Torre was fired by Maxvill’s successor, Walt Jocketty (who selected La Russa to manage the Cardinals).

But Maxvill and Simmons had brought Torre back into managing and, in so doing, opened a path to his Hall of Fame election. After leaving the Cardinals, Torre was hired by the Yankees. He managed them to four World Series titles and six American League pennants in his first eight years in New York.

In 29 years managing the Mets, Braves, Cardinals, Yankees and Dodgers, Torre compiled 2,326 wins, ranking fifth all-time. (La Russa is third at 2,728.)

Previously: Ted Simmons rates with Cardinals Hall of Famers

Previously: 10 reasons why Ted Simmons is a Hall of Famer

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