Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 10/31/11

With the Cardinals amazing run to the World Series title still lingering in the Missouri sky, long-time major league manager Tony La Russa has decided to go out on top.

After 33 years of managing in the big leagues, Tony La Russa has officially announced his retirement from the game of baseball, a game he has been a part of at the major league level since 1962 when signed by the Kansas City Athletics. A shoulder injury shortened La Russa’s playing career, but clearly his calling was to spend less time on the field and more time calling the shots from the dugout.

 

His managerial career started with the Chicago White Sox, where he would compile 522 wins to 510 losses over an eight-year span. The next ten years of his career would be spent in Oakland managing the franchise that has signed him in Kansas City 24 years earlier. La Russa held a 798-673 record while with Oakland, winning three American League championships and one World Series in 1989. His final stop would be St. Louis, where he would go on to have only three losing seasons in 16 years. His record with the Cardinals was 1408-1182 and he brought the city three National League championships and two World Series titles (2006 and 2011).

 

All told, La Russa finished his managerial career with 2728 wins, the third highest win total for any manager in major league history, trailing John McGraw by only 35 wins for second place all-time.

La Russa’s career was not without controversy. His Oakland A’s teams featured players like Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, who both will forever be linked to the very top of the steroid era. Under La Russa’s watch in St. Louis, McGwire went on to shatter the all-time single season home run record in 1998. In 2007, La Russa was arrested for DUI in Jupiter, FL. More recently, under much scrutiny of the sabermetric masses, La Russa poked a little fun at the matter saying,

"It's my tribute to Moneyball. I'm not a big Moneyball fan," La Russa said. "What we do is we take the square footage between the right-field line and center field and the square footage and from left field to center field, divide that by pi ... and then we pick the dugout. The field that's closest to the dugout, and that's where Lance plays. That's almost always true. Some places there may be, if it's spacious — probably not good. Here it's close to the dugout, that's where he plays." – Wall Street Journal

Interestingly enough, sabermetrics appeared as a part of La Russa’s persona well before the “Moneyball” era. Tony La Russa Baseball was a video game first released by EA sports back in 1991. Not only was La Russa’s name an important part of the game, but he was the source for a lot, if not most, of the information used to build the game’s artificial intelligence. The game was the first to use batter vs. pitcher data and the game makers brought in Pete Palmer, who was an early proponent of sabermetrics.

Love him or hate him. You can’t argue with La Russa’s overall body of work. Every manager has his critics, and while he’ll never completely quite their voices, all he has to do now, as he walks away a World Series champ, is calmly say one word, “Scoreboard.”

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