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Tony LaRussa retires

Posted by Andy on October 31, 2011

I hope we can all be half as successful as Tony LaRussa, who just announced his intent to retire.

He won 3 World Series championships and 3 more pennants and he managed in every single season from 1979 to 2011.

It's certainly interesting--LaRussa got a lot of heat this post-season for some gaffes (most notably having the wrong guy warming in the bullpen)--and I suppose it makes a lot of sense for him to go out on top.

Congrats, Tony, to a wonderful career!

Now here's an interesting thought--if you are a prime managerial candidate, are you more interested in Boston, St. Louis, or Chicago Cubs (if they replace Quade)?

This entry was posted on Monday, October 31st, 2011 at 11:12 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

92 Responses to “Tony LaRussa retires”

  1. If I were David Freese, I'd consider retiring too- there's no way things get better than this.

    Apart from signing a fat contract at some point.

    Imagine that, the NLCS and WS MVP makes (MLB) minimum wage.

  2. How many managers had 3 pennants with 2 different teams. Or even 2 pennants with 2 teams for that matter.

  3. What?!? Tell me this is a joke. If he managed just 1 more season, he'd be #2 on the all-time wins list for managers.. number 2, behind only Connie Mack. He can't seriously be retiring now.

  4. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Among the hypothetical openings you listed, I would rate Chicago as second, due to Epstein. Boston would rank first, and St. Louis would rank right behind a minimum-wage job behind the counter at the Golden Arches.

    Not that St. Louis is that bad, but LaRussa is a helluva act to follow.

  5. #2 - off the top of my head..

    Bucky Harris - Original Washington Senators and the NY Yankees
    Sparky Anderson - Reds and Tigers
    Both won WS with different teams

    Joe McCarthy - WS with the Yanks, pennant with the Cubs
    Yogi - Pennants with the Yanks and Mets
    Dick Williams - WS with the A's, pennant with the Padres and Red Sox

  6. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Answer to #2;

    Funny you should bring that up so soon after the "Billy Martin was a racist" issue coming up.

  7. Brian Wells Says:

    Bet Pujols is going to leave St.Louis.

  8. Can anyone think of a manager whose career ended with a WS title?

  9. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    And sign with the Cubs to play for their new manager (initials TLR)?

  10. oneblankspace Says:

    At one point with the White Sox, LaRussa was simultaneously the youngest AL manager and the second longest tenured. He also took the Sox to the postseason for the first time in 24 years with the 1983 division title which they won by 20 games.

    On his coaching tree (not intended to be an exhaustive list):
    Jim Leyland was his third base coach in Chicago.
    Ozzie Guillen played for him in Chicago.

  11. Tony secretly plans to come back as a player. He finished with a .199 BA and 0 HRs; just 1 AB against a friendly pitcher could fix both problems.

  12. I was never a big fan of his but I have to admit this is a pretty neat way to end a 30 plus year managerial career and that most of his former players and coaches seem to hold him in high regard.

  13. This coming election for Hall of Fame means Larussa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre all would be worthy candidates with over 2,000 wins.
    Finishing with a world championship is a great way to do it. On the other hand I was sort of hoping Tony would go one more year and pass John McGraw for second place all time.
    What I am wondering concerning the HOF is don't they have a limit of two not-players each year? This would be a great time to make an exception and elect all three of these great managers at once.

  14. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    John Autin {#8}

    If you only count full season, Miller Huggins comes to mind -- and qualifies.

  15. @5, Bill McKechnie and Dick Williams are the only managers to win pennants with 3 teams, McKechnie with PIT '25 (won WS), StL '28, and CIN '39, '40 (won WS)

  16. #8

    Gil Hodges

  17. St. Louis. Still would have hope Pujols returns.

    Cubs: Theo doesn't make that a better job, per se, but Chicago is still Chicago.

    Boston: A complete train wreck. I'd rather manage the Long Island Ducks.

  18. @15,

    Dick Williams also had a Division title with the Expos! (so that gives him a division/League title with 4 different teams)

  19. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Chuck {#16}

    Sorry, but Hodges finished third in the NL east his final season.

  20. Who manages the NL All Star team next year?

    Trying to think of comparable situations. 1982 American League. Bob Lemon gets fired about half a month into the season (by King George, of course) and it appears Billy Martin (manager of the AL runnersup A's from the year before) managed the game. 1979 American League. Near as I can tell, Bob Lemon (again!!!!, the Yankees just were too darned entertaining back then) gets fired 65 games into the season or about a month before the All Star Game. If this site is right, he actually managed the All Star Game despite not being the actual manager of the Yankees at the time.

  21. @14, Frank -- Huggins is a good find. However, the '29 Yankees had already been mathematically eliminated by the time he stepped down, so I think that full 2nd-place season goes on his account.

  22. @8 and @14:

    If you only count full season, Dick Howser is probably a better example than Miller Huggins (both of them are fairly tragic, of course), since Miller almost completed the 1928 season, where Howser only made it through about half the 1986 season.

    Trying to come up with some others.

  23. Brent @ 20

    Someone on MLBTR did a good job of detailing the history of this that I'll spare everyone from having to read this again.

    In short- it's up to MLB to decide but they can: 1) offer to let LaRussa manage and then it's up to him to decide, 2) have the manager of the runner up team manage (Ron Roenicke) or 3) offer it to whoever they like.

  24. @8

    Bill Carrigan (player manager of the 1915-1916 Red Sox) SHOULD fit the bill, but he regrettably decided to come back and manage the atrocious Sox teams of the late 20s.

  25. I think Fred Hutchinson had the Cincinnati Red in first place when he left 110 games into the 1964 season. Unfortunately they finished the year in second place in the NL. Another tragic story.

  26. There's this guy at our company, very nice guy. He does everything right at work, talks to the right people, goes to the right meetings. He's a weather guy, meaning he watches the weather on all 4 local TV stations and The Weather Channel religiously. He has a neat little mustache, more like Clark Gable than Josef Stalin, and he combs that mustache every hour on the hour. When the weather comes on he nervously combs the mustache while worrying the chance of rain has possibly gone from 30% to 40%. His father's a former executive with the company and he was groomed to do this job, and he likes to remind you of it. The one day of the month he combs that mustache until his lip is red and almost bleeding is the day the comparative sales figures come out. He's as nervous as a one legged cat trying to bury shit on a frozen pond that day of the month because that's the day the truth is laid bare, and the truth is he is very average by the one measurement that can not be fudged, dollars and cents! In the 11 years I've worked with him he's struggled to meet the minimum sales quotas, and has often missed. I don't think it's any accident this guy hates Tony LaRussa. He sees Tony as sort of a rogue, and maybe has an ego problem with all that long black hair and obviously it's dyed black. He's heard on Sportscenter how Tony manages against the grain and makes enemies at a rate too high to sustain working relationships with others around him. He ruffles too many feathers to form the connections needed to be successful, and he's had a DUI. According to this very average salesman, any big company worth it's salt would fire an executive that got a DUI, can't have it. Yep, that's what he said.

  27. You work with Prince Charles?

  28. Prince Charles has a mustache?

  29. If he retires, who will coach NL in next year's all-star games? Will it be whoever they choose to become LaRussa's successor in St Louis?

  30. @27 Sorry Topper, I can only type, can't use crayons in this forum.

  31. Does this impact Pujols coming back? I have to assume it does. I don't know what the relationship between LaRussa and Pujols was, but I've never heard anything but good things about it, LaRussa was Pujols' only manager, and, the World Series aside, StL is likely a team on the decline and, as much as I may riff on LaRussa and question his tactics, that team was built in his model and I doubt another manager will have the success that he had recently. I have to assume it makes it less likely that Pujols comes back, unless they give him a hand in picking a manager of his choice...

  32. I would think Ron Roenicke gets to coach the NL All-Stars.

  33. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Actually, Andy {#32}, I think that, in such a case, the NL manager's place would be taken by Charlie Manual, by default.

  34. SocraticGadfly Says:

    No surprise. I raised this possibility either yesterday or Saturday as a comment on the "possible major offseason changes" blog post here, and nobody else commented.

    Andy, you need to hire me!

  35. SocraticGadfly Says:

    Andy, for we bloggers, why doesn't BR have a "feed" for when we link to managers like it does for when we link to players?

  36. @8.

    Johnny Keane with St. Louis in 1964. It wasn't the end of his career, but he resigned under pressure after the WS. His WS opponent, Yogi Berra, was fired by the Yankees after just one season, and Keane replaced him the next year in New York.

    Doubt that's every happened before, where neither WS manager stays with his team.

  37. Dunno. You'd have to submit that question through feedback. I don't run the blog or the site.

  38. Matthew Cornwell Says:


    Of course LaRussa still wouldn't be his manager if he went to Chicago or Anaheim or Texas either.

    Not sure the Cardinals are a team on the decline either. Wainwright. Garcia. Holliday. Freese. Craig. Young bullpen with tons of live arms. Martinez and Miller coming up in a year or two from the minors. Full parks and a pretty big payroll. Much to the chagrin of NL teams, I bet the Cardinals find a way to be competitive and excel for a long time to come...just as they have done for the past 85 years.

  39. #2: with two pennants, Leo Durocher (Dodgers/Giants), Al Lopez (Indians/ChiSox)

  40. I think they should let Tony LaRussa manage the All-Star team anyway. He earned it!

    An interesting thing about Dick Williams. He resigned from the Oakland A's after winning his 2nd consecutive World Championship in 1973. He signed to manage the California Angels in 1974, shortly before the All-Star break. He managed the AL All-Star team wearing an Angels uniform. Then he led the Angels to a last place finish.

  41. Phil Haberkorn in Indiana Says:

    LaRussa planned to keep managing, but he was given an offer he couldn't refuse for a product endorsement contract.
    It's for one of those wireless cellphone companies.
    The TV ads will play off the problems LaRussa had with his dugout calls to the bullpen that resulted in the wrong pitcher coming out.
    After his first call, a gal at a pizza shop answers.
    After his second call, a reliever in the other team's bullpen starts warming up.
    Finally, he gets through to his own bullpen and his relief man gets into the game.
    As Tony returns to the dugout after the pitching change, a coach hands him the phone and says "It's for want anchovies or not?"

  42. Phil Haberkorn in Indiana Says:

    Re: post 29, I believe precedent has been set with a previous manager who retired and was allowed to manage the All Stars the following year. I don't have time to do the research, but I believe it was his option and his coaches included the runnerup in the previous hear's playoffs plus the managers of the current first place teams, just to "touch all the bases" over who "should have" managed the team.

    Re: post 13, I resist strongly any suggestion to "make an exception" for anybody outside of unexpected posthumous situations like Roberto Clemente. LaRussa's record deserves HOF status, but if there's a waiting period like for players, he should wait his turn like everybody else has to. No player gets an "exception" simply for breaking records, neither should a manager.

  43. Definitely the St. Louis job. The Cubs are a Tennessee Williams one-act play every year and the Red Sox are too obsessed with the Yankees. What giant powerhouse do the Cards have to fend off in the N.L. Central-Houston? Pittsburgh? Not by a mile. Chicago? See above. Milwaukee? Prince Fielder is ready to say bye, bye.
    Cincinnati? Okay, maybe. You've got a great stadium, great fans and media that isn't too harsh. And you play in a weak division. Where do I sign?

  44. Very good, Phil. I got a nice chuckle out of that.

  45. I hate to see Don Tony go. Think about it...not including interim managers, the Cards have had 3 managers since 1980 (Herzog, Torre and LaRussa). The stinkin' Cubs went through 13 in the same period. The Cards have had 7 managers since 1965. The Cubs 18. The Yankees 12. The Phillies 14. The Red Sox 14. That's stability. Toss in that no Cards team has had back-to-back losing seasons (not including the strike year) since 1958-59 and you have a team that consistently is competing for a playoff spot. Truly an amazing feat for a franchise that has one of the smaller TV markets in baseball.

    I loved TLR's intensity and the "Cardinal Way" of always playing a "Hard Nine". Do the Cards bring on someone similar or do they go for a players' manager? I hope the former, given their payroll constraints.

  46. @8

    That's like Clemens hanging on to get those 204 Ks to pass Randy. #2, only 838 behind Ryan. What would that prove?

  47. @ # 46. I'm guessing you meant to direct that at me (#3), 'cause it makes more sense that way. Anyway, it wouldn't prove anything, but com'on... if you were that close (35 wins short) of being #2 on a historic list, wouldn't you just do it? You came all that way. Guys hang on all the time to reach the 3000 hit mark....why not just get 35 more wins. Actually the more I think about it, and the more I read through the comments, I'm convinced he ain't done. He'll be the Cubs new manager.... and get those 35 W's.

  48. SocraticGadfly Says:

    @Devon. NOT. Cubs mgr? Not.Gonna.Happen. Accept it. Tony the Pony has retired.

    Meanwhile, I'll be the first to dive on on this issue....

    If roids are a "black cloud" over some players' heads, and their odds of getting in the Hall of Fame, what about La Russa? (I don't for a moment believe him that he was clueless about the A's locker room.)

  49. Matthew Conrwell Says:

    48. Of course every single manager knew of their team's players usage too. Even the man with the most users on the Mitchel Report... MLB executive Joe Torre.

  50. This year's team was a long shot, but how he won the World Series in 2006 with a post season rotation of Carpenter, Jeff Suppon, Jeff Weaver and Anthony Reyes is still a mystery. Except for Carpenter, none of those guys were ever good before or after that.

  51. I read elsewhere that Tony LaRussa changed how relief pitchers were used. Anyone have the details behind this claim? TIA.

  52. @47: LaRussa could be the Cubs manager, but he still wouldn't get those 35 wins.

  53. LaRussa was the first manager to use a closer essentially exclusively as a 1-inning guy only in save situations, which is the typical pattern for all teams since he started it in the late 1980s with Eckersley.

  54. Thanks, Andy. One more: do you know which manager began using the one-inning "set-up" pitcher as an exclusive role? Was it also LaRussa? TIA

  55. SocraticGadfly Says:

    @50 ... Dave Duncan. Assuming he retires now, also, rather than staying on for his 2012 contract ....

    Has a position coach ever been voted in the HOF? Besides Suppan, Weaver and Reyes, how many other pitchers has he done that with?

    I'll give him credit for 300 of TLR's regular-season wins.

  56. SocraticGadfly Says:

    Oh, and on changes for next year? CC ain't going anywhere:

  57. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    In other managerial news today was a candidate to join the "Pennants with two different teams" list -- Davey Johnson {whom I believe is actually older than LaRussa}.

  58. DoubleDiamond Says:

    If I had had to pick which team leader with a law degree would have retired first, I would have chosen Joe Paterno over Tony LaRussa.

    You know you are not that old when someone has been in a certain position for as long as you can remember. For me, it's Fidel Castro as the head of Cuba, at least in name right now. And, granted, I didn't know anything about college football until around 1973, but Joe Paterno has always been the head coach of my least favorite college football team, Penn State, as far as I'm concerned. I'll bet his funeral will be on all of the T.V. stations in Philadelphia, and I will scream loud enough to be heard in Pittsburgh (where it probably will also be on all of the stations) if it pre-empts "The People's Court". Oh, and Elizabeth II has been the Queen of England since just under 5 months before I was born.

    Other long-reigning incumbents from the time I was old enough to know about their positions until they were finally dislodged:

    1. Walter Alston as manager of the Dodgers.

    2. The first Richard Daley as Mayor of Chicago. I already knew his name before the riots connected to the 1968 Democratic Convention but not as early as 1959. A few years past 1968, when he was still in office, I read about him taking part in some kind of celebration of the White Sox's 1959 AL pennant, and he was Mayor back then, too.

    3. Nelson Rockefeller as Governor of New York.

    4. Tom Landry as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Both my least favorite NFL team and my least favorite college football team wear blue.

  59. Mayor Daley served until 1976, it took a big blizzard to punch a hole in his support, although he still left on his own terms (heart attack).

  60. Sorry this doesn't have to do with LaRussa (a great coach) but . . .in another post I saw a discussion where it was mentioned that Cesar Tovar played all 9 positions in one game. Anyone have info on times this has happened? I assume this is always a gimmick kind of thing once a team has been eliminated from playoff contention, am I right? It is hard to imagine this kind of immensely fun thing happening today.


  61. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    58 Double Diamond;

    I know what you mean. I can recall an intense feeling of relief when Connie Mack finally quit. He had been managing the Athletics 27 years before I was born, and it almost felt like disrespectful if we rooted against Philadelphia in those last five years or so -- like I was rooting against my own grandfather.

  62. SocraticGadfly Says:

    @60 Campaneris did it once, I want to say Oquendo did for the Cards, and, I know it's been done in the last decade or so.

    Oh, and speaking of Cards and ex-Cards ... why didn't anybody interview The Wizard about how he felt about TLR's retirement and if he'll be at Busch for Opening Day 2012? (ESPN, this summer, ranked this No. 1 on ex-player/manager feuds.)

  63. Thomas Court Says:


    Joe Paterno HAS retired. The fact that he is considered the head coach of Penn State, and just achieved his record breaking 409th win is a joke to me. He is NOT the coach of Penn State anymore. He is just an 84 year old man who sits in the booth and gets credit when the Nittany Lions win.

    Years ago he was a brilliant tactician, and knew how to prepare his team - even against superior opponents (1987 Fiesta Bowl). And of course he has always been a great recruiter. It is very difficult to produce a team with a legacy like Penn State's in the northeast part of the country. But in his day Joe Pa did it.

    But now, the game has totally passed him by. There is no way he is still calling the shots. He is not on the sideline. The coordinators handle all the play calling.

    Love Larussa's decisions or hate them - at least he is the one making them.

  64. People are wondering if Pujols will now leave because LaRussa is leaving. Conversely, I wonder if Pujols told LaRussa, "Hey boss, there's no way I'm staying. I'm gone." And suddenly LaRussa didn't mind retiring so much after all.

    I hope I'm wrong because I'd love to see Pujols stay in St. L.

  65. @63 A little tought on Joe aren't you Thomas? He is getting up there, but a lot of modern college football is recruiting and it looks like they're still getting the players.

  66. @60, Chris B -- 4 guys have played all 9 positions in a game since 1919 (the searchable era):
    -- Bert Campaneris,
    -- Cesar Tovar,
    -- Scott Sheldon (who?),
    -- Shane Halter,

    Halter had the best offensive game, going 4-5 with 3 RBI and .308 WPA.

  67. My reply to Chris B @60 had too many links, so I'll split them up:

    Chris, 4 guys have played all 9 positions in a game since 1919 (the searchable era):
    (1) Bert Campaneris,
    (2) Cesar Tovar,


  68. (continuation of #67)

    (3) Scott Sheldon (who?),
    (4) Shane Halter,

    Halter had the best offensive game, going 4-5 with 3 RBI and .308 WPA.

  69. @JOHN 67/68,

    No Octavio Rojas in the 60's with Philadelphia ?

  70. re: sticking around to get to #2,

    Career #2, #3 - what the hell is the difference? I don't know, but I do know that the similarity is that neither is #1.

    You stick around to get to #1, not to change to a different "also ran" rank.

    Really, do you think of McGraw's 35 more wins as having any more prestige, being a much greater accomplishment?

  71. Johnny Twisto Says:

    do you know which manager began using the one-inning "set-up" pitcher as an exclusive role? Was it also LaRussa?

    I think LaRussa's use of the setup man may really be his more "revolutionary" move. The closer role was already well-defined. I think LaRussa may be the first to use specific relievers in a consistent fashion to set up his closer. I feel like I posted a mini-study hinting at this on the blog in the past several weeks, but I'm not finding it right now.

    Fidel Castro as the head of Cuba, at least in name right now

    Don't think he's the head even in name anymore. He stepped down as both President and head of the Party.

  72. #66-68

    Thanks, John


  73. SocraticGadfly Says:

    John, thanks for confirming my memory, both that Campaneris did it, and that it had been done in the last decade or so.

  74. TR's record is gr8, but w/out Dave Duncan who has resurrected more fading pitchers than every other pitching coach combined...he wouldn't have won much. Duncan is the unassuming star here. At one point they used to compare Duncan to Leo Mazzone, but Leo had zero success when he left those HOF'ers in ATL and moved over to BAL. On the other hand Duncan has performed miracles everywhere he's gone.

  75. While we were talking about managers who won pennants and WS with more then one team, I think that we missed....

    Billy Southworth, a HOF manager who won pennants with the Cardinals in 1942, 43 and 44 and 2 WS and a penannt with the Boston Braves 1948.

    The HOF SHOULD include coaches...Some who might merit plaques include Johnny Sain, Dave Duncan ,Leo Mazzone and Charlie Lau.

  76. @58
    Its true that Joe Paterno has held on to his job for a while, but he s got a ways to go to have bragging rights in the sports or politics sectors.......

    Robert C Byrd was a Senator from West Virginia uninterruptedly for 51 years before he died!

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  92. #58: DoubleDiamond Says:
    October 31st, 2011 at 11:01 pm
    "If I had had to pick which team leader with a law degree would have retired first, I would have chosen Joe Paterno over Tony LaRussa."

    What did you know, and when did you know it? You almost nailed it!