A couple weeks ago I wrote about the four ex-Cubs that turned up as managers in this year's playoffs. One of the four was Tony LaRussa.
Tony's Cubs career was very short. One game, Opening Day in 1973. It won't get much shorter than that. Very Moonlight Graham-like.
LaRussa made the roster coming out of spring training as a utility infielder. On April 6, Opening Day, he pinch ran for Ron Santo in the bottom of the ninth inning and ended up scoring the winning run in the game. But after that, he was never used again. Eleven days later, on April 17, the Cubs activated pitcher Dave LaRoche from the disabled list. To make room on the roster, Tony LaRussa was sold outright to Wichita in the AAA. That means he was no longer Cubs property, no longer on the 40 man roster. I wonder what the team brass saw in spring training that got him a roster spot? And why did they change their minds so quickly?
Needless to say, Topps did not include him in the 1973 set. I wanted to fix that, but finding pictures of him in a Cubs uniform is not easy. I couldn't find one in any of my usual sources on the internet.
So I went to a site where I knew I could get a picture, but I would have to pay for it. George Brace was a sports photographer in Chicago for many years and amassed a huge collection of photos of baseball players from both leagues. It seems like any time a team was in town, if they had a new player, George snapped a photo. It is an amazing collection, and if you are looking for an oddball photo of a player, you should check it out.
They had three pictures of LaRussa in a Cubs uniform. I got the one of him in the full batting pose. With the magic of photoshop, I created the missing Topps 1973 Tony LaRussa card.
Johngy, this one's for you: