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EYE OPENERS: LaRussa would be third oldest MLB manager ever
EYE OPENERS

EYE OPENERS: LaRussa would be third oldest MLB manager ever

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Tony LaRussa

It has been nine years since Tony La Russa stepped down as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, but there is speculation that La Russa could make a comeback as the manager of the Chicago White Sox.

When news first leaked that the Chicago White Sox may be considering Tony La Russa as a potential managerial candidate, some thought it was a joke.

La Russa, who managed the Sox from 1979-86, is 76 years old and has not managed in the major leagues in nine years.

But this is no joke.

Most feel that former Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch is still the favorite, but La Russa apparently is a realistic possibility.

He wouldn’t just be the oldest manager in the major leagues now. It is believed he would be the third oldest manager ever.

Connie Mack was 87 when he ended a 50-year stint as manager of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1950 and Jack McKeon was 80 when he managed the Florida Marlins in 2011.

For what it’s worth, neither of those guys was a rousing success in their later years.

Mack won his last pennant in 1931 at the age of 68 and the A’s were dead last in the American League in 10 of his last 16 years. They went 52-102 in his final season. If he hadn’t been a part owner and the team president, he might have been fired.

McKeon, who managed the Royals, A’s, Padres and Reds in addition to the Marlins, won his last pennant in 1990 at the age of 59. He went 40-50 in that last stint.

Others who have managed into their 70s were Casey Stengel, who turned 75 during his final year with the Mets in 1965; Felipe Alou, who was 71 when he managed the Giants in 2006; and Dusty Baker, who came out of retirement to manage the Astros this season at the age of 71.

There have been other instances of men leading sports teams at an advanced age. Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden coached college football into their 80s. George Halas and Marv Levy served as NFL head coaches until the age of 72 and current NFL coaches Pete Carroll, Bill Belichick and Bruce Arians all are pushing 70.

If you’re looking for a progressive thinker to put an already promising team over the top, I’m not sure if this is would be a great move.

However, if there is any question whether a man that age can handle the rigors of a very demanding job, consider this: La Russa is two years younger than Joe Biden and only two years older than Donald Trump.

Both of them seem to think they can handle a very stressful position.

***

Remember how people used to complain that Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz was grossly overpaid?

He still might be, but he’s not alone. According to a USA Today report last week, Ferentz is now only the 19th highest paid Division I football coach in the country at $4.9 million and he’s down to seventh in the Big Ten.

The six league coaches ahead of him: Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Penn State’s James Franklin, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, Michigan State’s Mel Tucker and Nebraska’s Scott Frost.

Tucker has yet to coach a game at MSU and Frost is 9-15 in his first two seasons with the Cornhuskers. I think it’s fair to say they’re much more overpaid than Ferentz.

***

USA Today also found that every head football coach at a state university in both the Big Ten and Big 12 is taking a voluntary pay cut because of the pandemic. Ferentz, for example, is foregoing $229,250 in salary.

In the SEC, only four of the 13 coaches at state universities are taking cuts.

***

You had to love what Louisa-Muscatine football coach Eric Gabe did in the final minutes of his team’s season-ending 55-21 loss to Durant in the Class 1A playoffs Thursday night.

With defeat clearly a foregone conclusion and the season nearing an end, Gabe put a couple of senior linemen in the backfield and gave them a chance to carry the ball into the end zone.

Chase Miller, wearing jersey No. 54, barreled over for a 5-yard touchdown with 4 minutes, 50 seconds remaining. When the Falcons scored again following a Durant fumble, Trey Wagner (No. 52) got a chance to lunge in for a 2-point conversion.

It was a nice reward for Miller and Wagner, who are two of the team’s captains.

"You’ve got to have a little bit of fun when it’s a 1-7 campaign," Gabe said.

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