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Going out on top: Tony La Russa announces retirement

Oct 31, 2011, 10:17 AM EDT

2011 World Series Game 4 -Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals Getty Images

Last week every indication was that Tony La Russa planned to return for his 17th season as Cardinals manager and even today when the Cardinals announced a press conference few people suspected it had anything to do with the manager.

Turns out he’s decided to go out on top, with La Russa making the surprise retirement announcement this morning.

La Russa calls it quits just 35 wins away from passing John McGraw for second place on the all-time list behind Connie Mack, but the 67-year-old manager’s place in Cooperstown is plenty secure with a 2,728-2,365 (.536) record over 33 seasons and World Series titles in 1989, 2006, and 2011.

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La Russa revealed that he’s been thinking about retiring since August, but general manager John Mozeliak tried to talk him out of it. “I think this feels like it’s time to end it. And it’ll be great for the Cardinals to refresh what’s going on with the field manager job. … Look in the mirror and I know if I came back it would be for the wrong reasons.”

Regarding his retirement plans, La Russa brought up possibly buying a minor-league team and wondered if “the phone will ring” for another job in baseball.

La Russa noted that Dick Vermeil, Bill Walsh, and Sparky Anderson regretted retiring as quickly as they did, but said he’s been thinking about it for a while and the experience of the playoff run never changed his feeling that stepping down was the right thing. “If we won, if we lost, it wasn’t going to change.”

On being 35 wins away from passing John McGraw, he said: “I’m aware of the history of the game, but it wouldn’t be right to come back to manage just to move up one spot. It’s not something that motivates me.”

On telling the team after yesterday’s World Series rally: “I was encouraged that some grown men cried. I liked that, because they made me cry.”

  1. ramsfan34 - Nov 2, 2011 at 9:58 PM

    Very well said. I moved to Saint Louis from Kansas City when I was 12 about the same time Tony La Russa became the field manager of the cardinals. One of the biggest culture shocks of moving from KC to STL was in KC it’s about FootBall but even during the Rams “Greatest Show on Turf” era baseball reigns supreme. I’m still more interested in football yet I’ve enjoyed watching the Cardinals success and while many people here almost expect the Cardinals to be in playoff contention year after year but when you’ve spent your life watching the Royals you really appreciate what La Russa has done.
    Now that La Russa is gone I can’t help but think of him St.Louis’ disgruntled uncle. The guy had some problems and at ‘family gatherings’ he could be humiliating but we loved him anyway and with him gone I’m sure we will miss him.
    I like how refers to Walsh & Vermeil but those two were/are 2 of the classiest men to coach in pro sports. While LaRussa may not have bee as classy as the 2 he certainly is on there level of greatness. How ever

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