Legendary MLB Manager Tony La Russa Has Equally Legendary Affinity for Cats

Gabe ZaldivarPop Culture Lead WriterOctober 3, 2013

Jun 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox former manager Tony La Russa throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the game against the Oakland Athletics at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Tony La Russa may be done managing baseball teams, but he still has his hands full managing 17 cats. 

The Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay recently profiled the man who once managed the Oakland A's and St. Louis Cardinals to glory. 

Actually, he didn't profile the man so much as he alerted the world to La Russa's apparent cat hotel. 

Gay states that back when La Russa led the A's, he noticed a cat scurrying about the field. After the game, his new cat buddy remained, and he and his wife, Elaine, decided to forgo taking it to a shelter because it would be euthanized. 

Instead, they started La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation, because that's what most people do when they happen across a stray cat. 

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 25:  Manager Tony La Russa talks to the media ahead of Game 6 of the 2011 MLB World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 25, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Understanding that this article will be posted on the Internet—the stomping ground of cat lovers to come together and share cat pictures—I tread lightly when I say I'm not a cat guy. 

You have to work hard for their affection and still get the cold shoulder. And really, who has the time?

Well, La Russa is far more popular among the domestic feline population, because he states, "I have cats that just jump up in my arms when I come home."

Of course, the most impressive part of the report is the 68-year-old currently has 17 cats bumping around his house. 

With that, we would like to warn anyone knocking on La Russa's door that he is armed. 

Gay is careful to note that La Russa isn't some MLB version of the proverbial cat lady, hoarding strays to keep loneliness at bay—at least we hope not. 

Many of the cats are with him on a temporary basis until they get homes, which means La Russa is one amazing guy when it comes to taking care of forgotten animals. 

It also means he has a new trick to impress us all with: naming off all his cats. 

Still, La Russa could name them, even the newcomers. It took a couple of minutes, a few pauses, but he ticked them off, one by one, as if running down a lineup card.

"Skye, Pearl, Slash—named after a rock 'n' roll guitarist—Sophia, Maggie, Jack—my daughter found him in the parking lot of a Jack in the Box—Stella, Sierra, Kachina, Lakota, Fergus, Dexter—he's very precocious—Misha, Cammie, Eddie, Patchy, Pawnee."

Yes: That is all 17. Yes: It sounded as amazing as it reads.

It's a wacky story and a comical image, but there is something rather wonderful about a man who took in one cat years ago and built something completely remarkable and tremendously needed. 

Gay writes the foundation has grown into "an organization committed not only to protecting animals but also assisting their human caregivers as well. ARF has been placing rescue pets with senior and abused children and even veterans struggling with PTSD."

As La Russa so eloquently puts it, "We built a double mission, People rescuing animals, animals rescuing people."

It would be one thing to rescue cats and call it a day, but La Russa went one step further and filled a gaping hole in other people's lives. 

He also explained why cats are so amazing: "I think it's because they are so unique in the way they show affection, and because you have to work for it. Once you get it, man, they just curl up with you. But they retain their independence."

We assume the former skipper is going to watch the MLB playoffs unfold like the rest of us, only he will be joined by a growing bounty of cats. 

Just don't ask him to name all of them, because it might take a while. 


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