From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1994:

CONCORD, California––”Yes, that is actually me in the Wendy’s
commercial,” Tony LaRussa admits. “But yes, my family and I are every bit as
involved in vegetarian eating as always. I blame myself more than anyone else
for participating in a commercial that encourages eating meat!”
The commercial in question promotes Wendy’s new chicken, bacon,
and Swiss cheese sandwich. It first aired in early October, while LaRussa and
family were touring abroad, causing thousands of viewers familiar with Tony
and Elaine LaRussa’s record on vegetarianism and animal protection to wonder
if they’d been misled. In the commercial, an unidentified coach hangs up the
bullpen telephone, turns to LaRussa, and says “Marinara.”

“Yes!” returns LaRussa, pumping his fist.
“My understanding of my connection with Wendy’s was to advocate
vegetarian alternatives at their franchises,” LaRussa emphasized to ANIMAL
PEOPLE. “Obviously something very different is being marketed. I am still
trying to figure out how this mistake was made. In any case,” he affirmed, “we
will continue to be avid and active vegetarians.”
Some activists speculated that Wendy’s used trickery to compromise
one of the most visible and effective spokespersons for vegetarianism ever––one
of the winningest managers in baseball history, with five first place finishes in
16 seasons in charge of major league clubs, including three straight pennants
with the Oakland Athletics, 1988-1990. But if compromising LaRussa was the
idea, it didn’t work: his reaffirmation of vegetarianism made almost every
sports section wherever anyone follows baseball, and was mentioned as well in
many of the stories about his signing another three-year contract with the
Athletics, the team he played for during most of his career as a major league
infielder, and has managed since 1986.
Opposed to hunting since childhood, LaRussa gave up red meat at
wife Elaine’s urging in 1976, while managing the minor league New Orleans
Pelicans. “One day when Tony was on the road with the team,” Elaine remem-
bers, I saw a television documentary called From Pasture To Table that showed
exactly how meat animals were raised and slaughtered. I made a vow to never
cause that to happen to an animal, and once I said that, I never went back on it.
I told Tony, and he just said okay, if I felt that strongly about it.”
They gave up seafood in 1987, after their children were old enough to
participate in the decision. Both have used their prominence in baseball to pro-
mote animal causes––including making a point of ordering vegetarian meals at a
White House state dinner, then explaining their choice to the curious.
In perhaps the most famous episode, Tony LaRussa scooped up a cat
who ran onto the Oakland Colossium diamond during a game, then took the
opportunity to inform baseball fans about pet overpopulation. He lends his
name to Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, of Concord, California,
an adoption-and-fostering group. And Tony and Elaine, also donors to ANI-
MAL PEOPLE, appear at fundraisers for many other animal protection organi-
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