(AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill, File)
Former Cardinals manager and three-time World Series winner Tony La Russa will present a speech, "Leading Successful Teams," at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Show Me Center.
"I think it will be very interesting to hear about the leadership skills he used to manage the many superstars he had on his teams," said Southeast Missouri State University president Dr. Ken Dobbins. "There were many players who had exceptional skills, yet his teams all seemed to come together as a team. It's not every manager that can accomplish that."
Dobbins also noted that La Russa is a sports figure who thinks education is important.
"Mr. La Russa is not only a college graduate but also a law school graduate," he said. "Now, I can't say for sure if a law degree is of great importance when it comes to being a big-league manager, but it certainly reflects the drive he had in furthering his education. I hope he'll mention that in his talk because I want the student-athletes here at Southeast to remember that they are students first and athletes second."
La Russa's speech will detail the keys to his successful managerial career before, after and especially during the game. He will reveal seldom-heard stories of why believing in each player's ability, even when others did not, provided the platform for his teams to obtain amazing come-from-behind victories. La Russa is also expected to talk of how studying facts that are relevant to a particular business is a powerful strategy that can lead to great achievement.
The Southeast Missourian is a sponsor of the event.
Steve Bieser, head baseball coach at Southeast and former major leaguer with the New York Mets in 1997 and Pittsburgh Pirates in 1998, plans to be in attendance.
"Tony La Russa has one of the greatest minds in baseball," Bieser said. "I was with the Cardinals' Triple A team in Memphis in 2000, and I saw him up-close when I tried out with the big team in St. Louis. I could see he was the kind of manager who possessed the ability to lead men to great things."
Bieser said his personality as a coach differs from that of La Russa's, but they both take the game seriously.
"It's a businesslike approach," he said. "Unlike other big-league managers I've played for, La Russa's not a clubhouse guy who yucks it up with his players. Like him, I feel there's a time for fun and a time to get down to business. It's all about being prepared, and to me that's why he was so successful as a manager. You can't argue with the results he had throughout his career."
Bieser also said he's excited to be joining La Russa for dinner before his speech.
"I'm going to try and pick his brain about baseball just a little bit," he said.
La Russa, who now works for Major League Baseball in the commissioner's office, began his professional playing career in 1963 with the Kansas City Athletics. He played the next 14 seasons with the Kansas City and Oakland Athletics, Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs, also doing time in the minor leagues. At the end of his playing career, La Russa earned his law degree from Florida State University College of Law.
La Russa's managerial career began in 1979 when he took over the Chicago White Sox, leading them to an American League West division title in 1983. Let go by the White Sox in 1986, La Russa was hired by the Oakland Athletics and he led them to three American League championships and the 1989 World Series title. He left Oakland in 1995 to manage the St. Louis Cardinals, guiding them to three National League championships and the 2006 and 2011 World Series titles.
La Russa announced his retirement three days after the 2011 title, ending 33 seasons as a major league manager. He ranks third in all-time wins by a manager, behind Connie Mack and John McGraw, and has the most wins as a manager in St. Louis Cardinals history. La Russa is also the author of "One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten-and-a-Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season," published this year, and his No. 10 jersey was recently retired by the Cardinals.
LaRussa's speech marks the second installment of the 2012-2013 University Speakers Series at Southeast. Other series events are by the Second City Communications comedy troupe Monday; John Legend on Jan. 23; Michelle Kwan on March 6; and Jeff Corwin on April 10.
Tickets for Southeast students, faculty and staff with a valid university ID card are free at the University Center, room 202. Tickets for the public are $10 and are available at the Show Me Center box office, at www.showmecenter.biz and by calling 651-5000.
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