Tony La Russa’s never really done things the normal way. He bats his pitcher eighth, falls asleep drunk in cars, and now he’s about to rock St. Louis. If “rock” is what you call getting Vince Gill, Huey Lewis, and some guys from REO Speedwagon for your benefit concert.
La Russa’s Stars to the Rescue show benefits his Animal Rescue Foundation, and he sat down with the RIVERFRONT TIMES to talk about the music, man. And about Dave Henderson getting onstage with John Fogerty.
There’s comedy gold throughout this interview, so let’s just pick out some of the best nuggets:
“I was in Chicago in 1991 for a series against the White Sox, and after the game I went out to dinner with my friend Dennis DeYoung, lead singer of Styx.”
“John Fogerty closed the show. When he played “Centerfield,” the A’s center fielder Dave Henderson came onstage and joined him on background vocals. We’ve been doing a show in the Bay Area now for eighteen years. This year we got Air Supply, Billy Bob Thornton’s band and Tony Orlando.”
“Unfortunately, I missed the Eagles and Journey this past year — that really bothered me.”
“But the Dead weren’t on the top of my list. I liked the Doobies better. They were from the Bay Area. Their lead singer, Michael McDonald, is from Missouri. He’s good.”
The best part of the whole piece, though, comes at the end, when author Chad Harrison asks La Russa about a hypothetical batting-lineup situation with Lewis and McDonald:
Garrison: If you were coaching a celebrity baseball team with Huey Lewis as a weak-hitting catcher and Michael McDonald as his ace starting pitcher, would you still bat McDonald eighth and Lewis ninth, bucking convention?
La Russa: The idea of hitting a position hitter ninth only works if he is a good batter. The idea is to get him on base, making your third hitter — Albert Pujols — your clean-up hitter. You turn the lineup around that way. Now, if Huey was not a good hitter, I would try to find a better hitter and still bat Michael eighth. But I refuse to believe that Huey wouldn’t be a good hitter.
Why does Tony still think that he has Pujols on a team that somehow includes two rock musicians? Obviously, Steve Perry is your #3 hitter in this scenario.
As for the guests of honor, REO’s Kevin Cronin is a friend of SbB, having spent some time with the SbB girls: