Tony La Russa grew up in Tampa, Florida and unlike most kids that wanted to be a fireman one week and a policeman the next, Tony wanted to play baseball. And not only did he want to play at that early age, he wanted to win. The youngster played in the little leagues and later an American Legion team and he grew as a player at every level. His first contact with the major leagues was when Charlie Finley came to his home in Tampa and as soon as he graduated high school Finley signed him to a contract with the Kansas City Athletics. Tony was 18 years old, and spent his contract time with the Athletics then he was assigned to a Kansas City farm club in Daytona Beach, Florida. He was a utility infielder playing mainly short stop and in that first season hit .258. Near the end of the season they bumped him up to class A and in 12 games he hit .186.
One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season
The team that refused to give up their manager in his final season A comeback that changed baseball After thirty-three seasons managing in Major League Baseball, Tony La Russa thought he had seen it all—that is, until the 2011 Cardinals. ... Google Books
I wanted to write this book because there’s a story that answers the question I got asked at the end of last season: How did you club win the world championship, especially when you had to come from so far behind?" La Russa said. "This is the first time I went back and realized everything the club went through and overcame to be the champion -- big, big difference looking back instead of looking forward."