Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who met with former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa a couple months ago in Milwaukee, wasn't necessarily surprised that La Russa stepped down on Monday. But Selig said on Tuesday that baseball will miss the 2011 World Series-winning manager.
"Tony La Russa is one of the great managers in baseball history," Selig said by telephone. "Certainly he's one of the legendary managers in this generation. There's no argument about it.
"I've always had great respect for Tony from his (Chicago) White Sox days and his Oakland days. I've really enjoyed having him on my special (overview) committee. His insight. His vision of our sport. He's very conscientious on that committee.
"A lot of those things we've done really have come from Tony."
Selig said, "One of my favorite people in my lifetime — and I've had a lot of them — is (the late) Sparky Anderson. I miss him a lot.
"Tony is in the same class. Baseball is going to miss him."
Although La Russa says his managerial career has ended, he technically is in line to manage the National League team in next July's All-Star Game in Kansas City because his team won the National League pennant.
Selig said he hadn't thought much yet about the managing situation for the All-Star Game, but he allowed, "I'd like to see him do that.
"We've got to see what happens."
There has no been real clear-cut formula for replacing a potential All-Star Game manager who has either retired or been fired after his team appeared in the World Series the year before. Sometimes, in the case of Dusty Baker with San Francisco-Chicago Cubs and Dick Williams with Oakland-California, the World Series manager merely switched teams in his own league and directed the All-Star Game.
On other occasions, fired managers or those who resigned have been replaced by the manager of whichever team finished the next highest in that league the year before. Both Johnny Keane of the Cardinals and Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees moved on for different reasons after the 1964 season (Keane actually replaced Berra). So the managers of the 1964 runner-up teams, Gene Mauch of Philadelphia and Al Lopez of the White Sox, worked the 1965 All-Star Game.
There is one precedent for La Russa, though. After Danny Murtaugh of Pittsburgh won the 1971 World Series and retired, again, he managed the 1972 All-Star Game even though Bill Virdon had replaced him as the Pirates' manager.