Those in the sports world probably know Tony La Russa, baseball player and now-retired manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A’s and Chicago White Sox. La Russa retired three days after he led the Cardinals to the World Series in 2011. It turns out that his wife is a big Machine Head fan, enough to have gotten the singer to play a solo acoustic set at his 22nd Annual fundraiser, alongside the likes of Tony Orlando, Robin Williams and other celebs that have likely never let freedom ring with a shotgun blast.
In a pretty insane post on his blog, Flynn begins by talking about a chance encounter that took place almost two years ago.
Life has a funny way of playing out, how seemingly innocuous encounters can take you to plces you never thought you’d go. Flash back to about a year and a half ago… I’m walking through Whole Foods in Walnut Creek talking on the phone to my friend Tom when a lady and her daughter approach me wide-eyed. “Are you fucking Robb Flynn?!” … “I could be…” They scream with delight and make a big ol’ to-do, “oh my god, we’re huge fans, I love ‘The Blackening’, I’m Tony La Russa’s wife!” I’m tripped out, they’re both super nice, we take pictures, my friend is laughing his ass off, more about the fact that I was swarmed in a freakin’ Whole Foods than anything else. So, last February we headline The Warfield in San Francisco, and after the show, who walks in but Elaine, Devon and Tony La Russa. A bunch of my Chicago buddies are there and lose their minds, and hilariously begin sneakin’ pictures with him while he’s talking to someone else by “leaning in” and snapping a quick pic (which became the legend known as “The La Russa Lean”). My baseball fanatic Dad FREAKS OUT, and Tony L blows my mind when he tells me that I “have so much charisma, he wishes he could bottle it and make his players drink it”. WOW!!?? I’m not worthy! We strike up a conversation and I mention that we got our dog Shady from the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) in Walnut Creek that he started almost 25 years ago, and he’s really stoked about that. He takes down my number and texts me the next day thanking me for the hospitality and for the great show. We’ve stayed in touch randomly over the last year.
He then recounts that shortly after Christmas, La Russa called to invite him and his wife to his 22nd annual benefit for the Animal Rescue Foundation, and asked if he’d be able to play a few acoustic songs as an anniversary gift for Elaine. Flynn busted out “Die Young,” which he’d done a few weeks before at the Mitch Lucker memorial concert. He also did an acoustic version of “Darkness Within,” playing it live and solo for the first time. The evening ended with a jam session in which Flynn joined Tony Orlando’s band playing an upside-down left-handed guitar strung backwards to “Hey Jude” and “Whole Lotta Love.” He also got to meet Williams, Dave Carvey, and, of course Orlando, who Flynn is pictured with above.