10/31/2011 12:04 PM ET
Tony La Russa Announces Retirement
World Championship Season caps 33-year career for St. Louis Cardinals All-Time Winningest Manager
Tony La Russa, the winningest manager in St. Louis Cardinals franchise history, today announced his retirement after a record 16 seasons as the team's manager. La Russa, 67, guided the Cardinals to their 11th World Championship this season and leaves the game ranked 3rd all-time in managerial wins (2,728) behind only John McGraw (2,763) and Connie Mack (3,731).
"My most prominent feeling today as I reflect back on my 33 years of managing and my 16 years as a St. Louis Cardinal is my overwhelming gratitude for the good fortune that I have had and the many people who helped me along the way," said La Russa. "I had the opportunity to work for three organizations that were all very different, but very much the same in the most important way - their drive for success."
"On behalf of the entire Cardinals organization and our tremendous fans, I want to thank Tony for everything he has done over the past 16 years to help keep the Cardinals among the most respected and revered franchises in all of professional sports," stated Cardinals Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill DeWitt, Jr. "Tony leaves behind a legacy of success that will always be considered one of the greatest eras in Cardinals history; an era that began immediately with a Division title in 1996 and was capped off with a World Championship in 2011"
La Russa, who was named the Cardinals 48th manager on October 23, 1995, guided the Cardinals to a franchise record 1,408 wins. He led the Cardinals to eight division titles (1996, 2000-02, 2004-06 & 2009), three National League pennants (2004, 2006 & 2011) and two World Championships (2006 & 2011).
"It has been a privilege and an honor to work with one of the greatest managers in the history of the game," said Cardinals Sr. Vice President and General Manager John Mozeliak, "Tony has been a leader, an innovator and a friend."
La Russa is 2nd all-time in games managed with 5,097, including stints with the Chicago White Sox (1979-86) and Oakland A's (1986-95). He ranks 1st on the Cardinals all-time games managed list with 2,491 and his 16 years of continuous service were tops among active managers/head coaches in the four major professional sports leagues.
La Russa's Cardinals teams 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 & 1944). La Russa and Sparky Anderson are the only managers to have led both a National and American League team to World Series titles.
During La Russa's 16 years at the Cardinals helm, the team surpassed 3 million in season attendance 13 times, including a franchise record 3, 552,180 fans in 2007. His Cardinals teams finished no lower then 3rd place in all but three seasons.
La Russa's Cardinals teams posted a National League best 913 wins during the decade of the 2000s, winning a league-leading 33 postseason games during that same time frame. Since joining the Cardinals in 1996, La Russa's teams led the National League with 50 wins in the postseason and their .544 regular season winning pct. (1,408-1,182) ranked 2nd in the N.L. during that span.