By Jill Martin
Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa -- who each won more than 2,000 games as managers -- have been unanimously elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the group's expansion era committee.
The announcement was made on the first day of the winter meetings Monday.
"I am thrilled that these great managers during my tenure as Commissioner will join the legends of our game in the halls of Cooperstown," Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said in a prepared statement. "In careers of consistent excellence and incredible longevity, Bobby, Tony and Joe all left indelible impacts on our national pastime. For decades, these three individuals not only led great ballclubs, but instilled in their teams a brand of class and professionalism that baseball fans admired. It is fitting that Bobby, Tony and Joe will share our game's highest honor together."
Twelve votes were needed for election on the 16-member committee. Cox, Torre, and La Russa got all 16.
"I'm certainly honored to go into the Hall with these two guys," Torre said. "It just sort of felt somewhat empty if one of these two guys was left out."
Torre is one of five managers to win at least four World Series titles, which he did with the New York Yankees in 1996 and 1998-2000. He won six American League pennants in 12 seasons in New York.
"After we won in '96 with the Yankees, it was really what I wanted," Torre said. "I realized it wasn't enough. You just keep driving. You never really look back -- I guess until now -- at what you did to admire, because once you start looking back, then you stop doing what you're trying to do."
Torre also managed the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He won one division title in Atlanta and two in Los Angeles. His 2,326 wins in 29 seasons rank fifth on the all-time list.
La Russa won the World Series with the Oakland Athletics in 1989 and the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011, his final season. He managed for 33 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, the A's and the Cardinals. He's third all-time with 2,728 wins, behind Hall of Famers Connie Mack and John McGraw. La Russa led teams to 12 first-place finishes, and six pennants.
Cox led the Atlanta Braves to the 1995 World Series title and 14 consecutive division titles from 1991 to 2005. He managed the Braves and Toronto Blue Jays for a combined 29 seasons, leading his teams to 15 first-place finishes. Cox finished his career with 2,504 wins -- fourth best all time -- in addition to five National League pennants.
"They're not the easiest guys to manage against, that's for sure," Cox said of La Russa and Torre. "But it was fun. It was always a battle. I consider them enemies on the field but friends off the field."
Falling short in the vote were Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Billy Martin, Marvin Miller, Dave Parker, Dan Quisenberry, Ted Simmons and George Steinbrenner.
Cox, Torre and La Russa will be inducted on July 27 in Cooperstown, New York. They will be joined by any electees from the Baseball Writers' Association of America voting. That announcement will be made on January 8.
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