After 16 years, 1408 regular season victories, and 2 World Series titles with the Cardinals, Tony LaRussa has decided to take his talents to somewhere other than the St. Louis dugout. Talk about going out in style, too. The Cardinals rallied from 10 1/2 games back in late August to get into the playoffs on the last day of the season. They beat Philadelphia (102-60), Milwaukee (96-66), and Texas (96-66) on the way to winning the World Series. They managed all of this despite the fact that Adam Wainwright was relegated to being a cheerleader the entire year. TLR managed in a game 7 for the first time in his career, and aging ace Chris Carpenter took the ball on 3 days rest for just the 2nd time in his career. After watching his team play the best baseball imaginable for over 2 months, LaRussa is walking away from the game.
It’s an incredibly unselfish move, even if he is doing it for selfish reasons. He could practically have a job for life in St. Louis at this point. He could hang around for years and go after some major managerial milestones and records. Nah. The man just decided to hang it up at age 67. Good for him. I wish him the best, and I wish to thank him for everything he has done for the Cardinals and the members of Cardinal Nation.
Just in case you are scoring at home, here are a few numbers to digest….
- 1408-1182 regular season record with the Cardinals
- 50-42 playoff record with the Cardinals
- 2728 wins as a manager over the course of 33 years (2365 losses)
- 3 pennants and 1 World Series title with the Oakland A’s
- 3 pennants and 2 World Series titles with the Cardinals
- 4-time Manager of the Year (3 in the AL, 1 in the NL)
- Only managed 3 teams during his managerial career (White Sox, A’s, Cardinals)
- .536 regular season winning percentage
- 23 winning seasons in 33 years
- Only 3 losing seasons in 16 years with the Cardinals
- Worst regular season record with St. Louis was 1997 (73-89)
- Best regular season record in St. Louis was 2004 (105-57)
If you are not scoring at home, here are a few more of LaRussa’s accomplishments worth noting…
- He once won a staring contest with a goldfish.
- When he exercises, he doesn’t do pushups, he actually pushes the world down.
- TLR is fluent in 7 languages, and one of them is “Manglish”.
- He was voted “Mr. Congeniality” a record 5 times by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
- Despite managing over 5,000 games, he has never once walked onto the field wearing his Jedi robes.
Also, let’s not forget that TLR is a member of a very exclusive club. He joins Rogers Hornsby, Gabby Street, Frankie Frisch, Billy Southworth, Eddie Dyer, John Keane, Red Schoendienst, and Whitey Herzog as the only managers in St. Louis Cardinals history to lead a team to a World Series championship. More impressively, he is only the 2nd of them to do it twice, joining Billy Southworth in that club.
Lost in all of the aforementioned numbers and achievements is perhaps TLR’s most significant accomplishment. Whether you loved, despised, liked, detested, or admired the guy, he always gave St. Louis fans something to talk about. Even his retirement is the talk of the town. Just in case he gets bored in retirement and starts reading Cardinal-related blogs, I hope he sees this….
May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.
Many thanks and much respect,
PS – I loved your work in “The King’s Speech”