Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker, rivalry of yesteryear that is reissued this 2021 (+ Videos)

Astros and White Sox meet in one of the American League Division Series. His managers, Dusty Baker and Tony La Russa, have 58 years of experience in the position. It’s not too surprising, given that, to say that their paths have crossed a few times. But there is a ton of history here, between two men who for years and years insisted they were still friends off the field.


As players, they were brief teammates with the 1971 Braves. It seems that was when they first met. Then in 1986, La Russa was fired from his position as manager of the Whitelegs and hired mid-season by the Athletics.

Read also: José Altuve makes postseason history and Astros hit first (+ Videos)

Baker was on that team in his final season as a player. In the past, La Russa often spoke with praise about Baker’s good veteran leadership presence at the clubhouse. However, once Dusty retired, he did not join Oakland’s coaching staff. He went across the bay with the Giants to be his hitting coach in 1989, when Tony’s Green-Yellows beat the Colossi in that year’s World Series.

2002, National League Championship Series

With Baker as manager, his Giants faced the Cardinals of La Russa to define the champion of the Old Circuit.

In the third inning of Game 1, Kenny Lofton homered and apparently didn’t run down the bases fast enough for the Cardinals’ liking. The next time the former outfielder hit, he was knocked to the ground with a fastball that he didn’t like.

The benches emptied as La Russa and Baker got into a shouting match. It was a big enough affair that they were both fined for “misconduct.” Tony was still angry at Lofton for what he believes was an overreaction to a pitch that was not intended for a purpose.

“I think Lofton should pay the fines for both Dusty and me.” La Russa said at the time, and in fact, he also made that request, pushing for the player to pay the price for his and Baker’s shares.

Lofton would end up with a single in Game 5 to send the Giants to the World Series.

Screaming fight in 2003

That year Baker went on to direct the Cubs, a cast that engaged with the Cardinals of La Russa for first place in the National Division Central.

Things reached a boiling point on September 3. There had been talk in the media about the possibility that some hitters were one of the cubs’ “tricks” to get into the head of St. Louis, something to which Baker said:

“I’ve heard Tony say things before. Tricks are for kids as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t like threats.”

In the second inning of that date, Chicago starter Matt Clement hit his winged teammate Dan Haren with a pitch. When Clement went to bat, Haren returned the favor.

The result? The two managers yelled at each other from the opposite benches. An incredible theater.

After the game, Baker said this was “just the beginning” and that the Cardinals were exaggerating to see the Cubs take the fight to the field.

2010, fight in Cincinnati

Dusty led the Reds while Tony continued with the Cardinals and Brandon Phillips paved the way for this.

Before that game against the Red Birds, the Cincinnati second baseman said: “I hate the Cardinals. All they do is whine and complain about everything, all of them, they’re bitches, all of them. I really hate the Cardinals.”

Read also: Rays with McClanahan and Arozarena fade the Red Sox (+ Videos)

Many will remember that before the bottom of the first began, Phillips and catcher Yadier Molina had a heated argument with La Russa and Baker facing each other again.

There are already two times that both managers have been suspended as a result of their actions against the other, and this also lasted in 2012.

The All-Star Game snub controversy

Recall that La Russa retired from his post with the Cardinals after winning the 2011 World Series, giving him the right to lead the National League team in the 2012 Midseason Classic.

The Reds players involved in the fight, Johnny Cueto and Phillips, had cases to make the team, but they didn’t. Baker suggested the slights stemmed from the 2010 fight and that La Russa held a grudge against them. Cueto also had words. La Russa responded like this.

“The comments Dusty made clearly disappoint me and are attacking my integrity. The All-Star Game experience is too important to let anything get in the way of such a decision.”

Added: “I feel betrayed by him (…) Professionally it’s one thing, but that was personal. I’m really upset about it. That was a knife in the back that I don’t think I’m going to forget.”

La Russa even mentioned this incident in her book and referred to Baker, but only called him “the manager of the Reds” and did not use his name, saying that this damaged the “friendship” that the two claimed to have shared for so long.

Source: CBS Sports