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La Russa calls end to 33-year career as a manager
2,728 regular-season wins are third all time
“I think this just feels like it’s time to end it,” La Russa, 67, said at a news conference at Busch Stadium.
The World Series win over Texas was the third of La Russa’s 33-year career. The manager guided the Cardinals to the championship despite being 10½ games behind Atlanta on Aug. 25 for the final playoff spot in the National League.
La Russa retires third on the all-time wins list, 35 behind second-place John McGraw. He won 2,728 regular-season games — including 1,408 with St. Louis — but said he never considered coming back simply to reach No. 2 on the wins list.
In addition to this season, he won championships in Oakland in 1989 and St. Louis in 2006.
“Other than some of the personal attachments, I feel good,” La Russa said. “I feel good that this is the right decision.”
La Russa said there wasn’t a single factor that led to his decision, but he began having doubts about returning for 2012 midway through the season. In late August, he told general manager John Mozeliak and other team officials.
La Russa said the timing of those discussions — about the time the Cardinals appeared to be out of wild card contention before their miraculous run — was pure coincidence. He said he simply felt it was time to go, a feeling that didn’t change even as the Cardinals squeaked into the playoffs on the final day of the season, then upset Philadelphia before knocking off Milwaukee and Texas.
He spoke with little emotion at the news conference with one exception, when he paused to compose himself as he thanked his wife, Elaine, and two daughters for putting up without him over much of the past 33 years. But he did say his meeting with players after Sunday’s parade and celebration was short but emotional.
“Some grown men cried,” La Russa said, then he joked, “I kind of liked that because they made me cry a few times.”
Mozeliak said work is under way to find a new manager for the first time since La Russa was hired before the 1996 season. A search committee will be formed. Mozeliak did not speculate on how long the process might take.
La Russa answered flatly, “No,” when asked if he’ll ever manage again. He also said he had no plans to be a general manager, but said he is open to some sort of baseball job in the future.
“Maybe open a book store,” he said.
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