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Wednesday, October 19, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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LA Russa Wishes He'd Just Said No To Wendy's

AP

OAKLAND, Calif. - Where's the beef? It's apparently a bit too close to the dugout for Oakland Athletics Manager Tony La Russa.

After a cameo appearance in a commercial for Wendy's, the manager is apologizing to fellow vegetarians and claiming he was misled, though a Wendy's official says La Russa knew what he was doing.

La Russa appears in a TV commercial for Wendy's new chicken-bacon-swiss cheese sandwich. He says only one word: "Yes."

After signing a three-year contract extension yesterday with the A's, La Russa said he was embarrassed about the commercial and was being inundated with calls, letters and faxes from irate fans.

"It was stupid on my part. I screwed up," he said of his role in a commercial that also features basketball coach Chuck Daly and other celebrities.

In the commercial, in which various people try to guess the toppings on the new sandwich, a coach hangs up the bullpen phone, turns to La Russa and says, "marinara." La Russa pumps his fist and responds, "Yes!"

The clip, which lasts only about two seconds, was filmed in a dugout in New York earlier this season. La Russa is wearing his A's uniform in the clip.

La Russa claims he was led to believe the commercial was for vegetarian alternatives, such as a salad bar and baked potatoes, offered at Wendy's. He says he thought the marinara sauce was to be used on the potatoes.

But Denny Lynch, vice president of communications at Wendy's headquarters, said he cannot understand La Russa's complaint.

"We're confused, big-time confused," Lynch said. "The name of the restaurant chain is Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers Restaurant. And he knew that it was a chicken sandwich commercial."

La Russa said he may contribute his earnings from the commercial to animal-rights groups.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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