ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — Seven months and ten days after Tony La Russa announced he was stepping down last Fall, the St. Louis Cardinals will honor the franchise’s winningest manager by retiring his No. 10 jersey on Friday, May 11, 2012. From 1996-2011, Cardinal Nation saw perhaps one of the best eras in franchise history with 2 World Series titles, 3 National League pennants & 8 NL Central Division championships.
Tony La Russa will join Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog and Ken Boyer as the fourth individual to have managed the Redbirds and have their number retired by the franchise. Overall, he becomes the thirteenth individual to receive the honor, but only the twelfth (Rogers Hornsby did not have a number from 1915-1926) to have his number retired.
La Russa became the first manager in Major League Baseball history to retire in the same season after winning a World Series title when he shocked players, fans and media days after the Redbirds defeated the Texas Rangers in Game 7 on the morning of October 31, 2011. He left the Cardinals with an all-time managerial record of 2,728–2,365 (.536) plus the most franchise wins as a manager with a 1,408-1,182 (.544) record.
After the historical 2011 World Series championship run, the 4-time AL & NL Manager of the Year (1983, 1988, 1992 & 2002) finished second all-time with 70 post-season wins, third all-time with 2,728 regular season wins, second with 5,097 games managed & tied second for 33 years managing with John McGraw.
La Russa surpassed Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst to become the all-time leader in wins by a Cardinals manager on August 31, 2007, when the Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Reds. His 2,500th win, which was on June 21, 2009 against the Kansas City Royals, made ‘TLR’ only the third manager in MLB history to obtain that win level after Connie Mack and John McGraw.
Before landing with the Cardinals for his third different club and first National League one, La Russa began in the American League with the Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics. Following the 1995 season when the A’s were sold, La Russa made a decision to leave the franchise where he had been managing for 10 seasons winning a World Series title in 1989.
His first season with St. Louis in 1996 was a fantastic start turning around a 62-81 team into the franchise’s first NL Central Division champion. The ball club that season was actually one victory away from playing for the 1996 World Series against the eventual champion New York Yankees, but dropped three straight to the Atlanta Braves after taking a 3-1 NLCS lead.
By retiring at the age of 67, La Russa became eligible for the Hall of Fame six months after retirement. He will be an eligible candidate in the next vote by the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Expansion Era Committee, scheduled to be held in 2013 for induction in 2014.
Copyright KMOX Radio