St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa announced his retirement Monday morning at a news conference, to the surprise of many baseball fans.
La Russa has managed 33 years in the major leagues, with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and Cardinals. The 33 seasons is tied for second-most all-time, behind Hall of Famer John McGraw, who managed the New York Giants in the early years of the 20th Century.
La Russa’s managing career began at age 34 in 1979, when he replaced Don Kessinger as White Sox manager with 54 games remaining in that season. He managed the White Sox to a 27-27 mark and four years later, brought them to their first postseason appearance in 24 years when they won the AL West with 99 victories.
That was the first of 14 playoff appearances; La Russa was fired in 1986 by Ken “Hawk” Harrelson in Harrelson’s brief tenure as White Sox GM. It took La Russa just a few weeks to find another job; he was hired by the Athletics on July 5, 1986 and two years later led them to the first of three AL pennants. La Russa’s A’s won just one of the three World Series, in 1989 over the Giants. But after three losing seasons, he was fired by Oakland near the end of the 1995 season.
He was hired to replace Joe Torre in St. Louis for the 1996 season, and both managers went on to postseason success. Torre’s run with the Yankees and Dodgers is well known, and La Russa managed the Cardinals to nine postseason appearances, three NL pennants and two World Series championships.
He retires just 35 victories short of McGraw for second on the all-time managers list; his next date should be with the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, five years from now.