Tony La Russa and Tom Crean were special guests at Patriots training camp

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A number of notable visitors have filtered through Patriots training camp this summer, including Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and point guard Isaiah Thomas. On Wednesday, baseball legend Tony La Russa stopped by The Greenbrier to check out New England’s joint practice with the Houston Texans.

La Russa, who managed three World Series championship teams, is a longtime friend of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Belichick spoke warmly of their relationship after practice, telling reporters:

Tony’s been a great friend. Buzz Bissinger—who wrote his book—and I went to high school together, so we have some mutual friends. It’s been great.

My relationship with Tony has been great. I’ve learned a lot from somebody as accomplished as he is in another sport. I’ll never forget the time he let me get in the dugout with him for an exhibition game. Baseball—it seems like just throw it and hit it, but there’s a lot more to it than that. I saw just how much there is on every single pitch and the focus, concentration, all of that.

Belichick also acknowledged La Russa’s forward-thinking mindset. He continued:

Different sports, but Tony is very progressive. He had a great career as a manager, won a couple thousand games. I can’t imagine what that’s like but it must be pretty good.

But yeah, he’s, again, we’ve talked a lot about coaching teams, coaching players, dealing with different situations. He’s been in a lot of big games, a lot of championships, World Series, things like that, different organizations. Yeah, he’s helped me a lot and given me a lot of insight.

Also in attendance on Wednesday was former head coach of the Indiana men’s basketball team Tom Crean.

Belichick also had nothing but good things to say about the 51-year-old, who led the Hoosiers to a Final Four appearance in 2003. He told the media:

I’ve had an opportunity to spend a lot of time with Tom, watched him at Indiana. He allowed me to kind of watch practice and spend time with his organization, with his team. Again, different sport but I learned a lot from his organization. We speak pretty frequently. Different motivations, teachings, coaching is coaching, even though the sport is different. Players are players, and there are different things you can do to help them. He is a very progressive guy.

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