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La Russa is top NL manager

  |   Nov. 6, 2002 at 3:22 PM
NEW YORK, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Tony La Russa, who guided the St. Louis Cardinals to a division title in a season marred by the tragic death of pitcher Darryl Kile, Wednesday was named National League Manager of the Year.

The Cardinals posted a 97-65 record and won the NL Central behind La Russa, who became the first four-time winner of the award that began in 1983. He won it in the American League with the Chicago White Sox in 1983 and with the Oakland Athletics in 1988 and '92.

La Russa gained 22 first-place votes and 129 points in the balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He is only the second manager to win in both leagues, joining Bobby Cox of the Atlanta Braves, who was the runner-up in this election.

The remaining first-place vote went to Dusty Baker of the NL champion San Francisco Giants, who was fifth overall with 18 points.

Voting took place at the end of the regular season.

In a competitive NL Central, La Russa helped the team keep its focus, fending off the late charge of the Houston Astros. The Cardinals overcame numerous injuries to their pitching staff as well as the death of Kile. The Cardinals

family also sustained the passing of legendary Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck, who was popular with many players.

The only other St. Louis manager to win the award was Whitey Herzog in 1985.

Cox guided the Braves to the best record in the NL at 101-59. The Braves their 11th straight division title.

Cox, who received nine first-place votes and 93 points, led Atlanta to the East Division title despite getting little offensive production from a couple of key positions.

He did move former starter John Smoltz to the bullpen and it worked like a charm. Cox also showed patience with some of his young starters.

Frank Robinson of the Montreal Expos was third in the voting, receiving six second-place votes and five for third for 23 points.

Robinson's Expos finished well behind the Braves, but the job he did with the financially-strapped team was nothing less than miraculous.

With a squad of inexperienced hitters that did not even know if it would play next season, Robinson held the Expos together.

A trio of NL West managers, Jim Tracy of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Baker, and Bob Brenly of the Arizona Diamondbacks, were next in the voting. Tracy had 22 points and Brenly two.

The only other manager to receive a vote was Bob Boone of the Cincinnati Reds, who had one ballot for third.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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