In a press conference on Monday morning at Busch Stadium, manager Tony La Russa announced he is retiring after 16 years leading the St. Louis Cardinals from the dugout. His 16 years of continuous service was tops among active managers/head coaches in the four major professional sports leagues.
La Russa guided St. Louis to a franchise-record 1,408 wins. He led the Cardinals to eight division titles (1996, 2000-02, 2004-06 and 2009), three National League pennants (2004, 2006 and 2011) and two World Championships (2006 and 2011).
|Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., TLR, Mozeliak|
Under La Russa, the Cardinals finished above .500 in 13 of his 16 seasons. They recorded 105 wins in 2004 and 100 wins in 2005, making La Russa just the second Cardinals manager to oversee two 100-win seasons. This year, La Russa became only the second manager to win two World Championships with the Cardinals, joining Billy Southworth (1942 and 1944).
La Russa has managed for 33 years, starting with the Chicago White Sox in 1979, then moved to the Oakland A’s in 1986, where he had his first world title before joining St. Louis prior to the 1996 season. La Russa and Sparky Anderson are the only managers to have led both a National and American League team to World Series titles.
La Russa retires ranked third on the MLB all-time games-managed list with 2,728. Many thought he would remain one more season to pass John McGraw, in second-place at 2,763.
“It’s just time to do something else. I knew if I came back, it would be for the wrong reasons,” La Russa said Monday.
The 67-year-old disclosed that he first told ownership and management that he was considering retirement in late August. La Russa had a difficult season physically, leaving the team for a period in May as he dealt with a painful outbreak of shingles. Since then, he led the team to an unexpected surge that culminated in the organization’s 11th World Championship, but that did not change his mind.
The manager felt it was necessary to disclose his decision quickly. He informed the players of his retirement after Sunday’s parade and celebration at Busch Stadium.
“The clock is running on a lot of important stuff,” La Russa said. “So I was just trying to be fair to the organization.”
Regarding his future plans, La Russa joked about buying a bookstore or a minor league team. He has also been rumored to be interested in a position in Major League Baseball’s headquarters. He is scheduled to appear on The Late Show with David Letterman in New York on Monday night.
On KMOX radio Monday morning, general manager John Mozeliak noted they have a long list of managerial candidates and will be looking for a man who can put his own stamp on the job. The GM did not offer a timeline for a decision, but has other challenges as well, as he is working on trying to keep free agent Albert Pujols with the team.
No matter what happens ahead, the defending champions will have a much different look in 2012 without La Russa in the dugout.
Video from FOXSportsMidwest.com
Cards skipper Tony La Russa announces his retirement just days after winning the World Series.
Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter reacts to the skipper's decision to retire.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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