ST. LOUIS — Tony La Russa retired as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, three days after winning a dramatic, seven-game World Series against the Texas Rangers.
"I think this just feels like it's time to end it," the 67-year-old La Russa 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 10 1/2 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. In addition to this season, he won titles in Oakland in 1989 and St. Louis in 2006. He is the first manager to retire immediately after his club won the World Series, according to STATS LLC.
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"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 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." La Russa was a .199 hitter in a brief major league career. He began as a manager with the Chicago White Sox in 1979. He guided the Oakland A's to three straight American League pennants in 1988-1990 and the 1989 World Series title over the Giants.
La Russa was hired by the Cardinals in October 1995, soon after the new ownership group purchased the team from Anheuser-Busch. His impact was immediate — the Cardinals won the NL Central and came within a game of going to the World Series in 1996, losing to the Atlanta Braves.
Overall, St. Louis went to the playoffs nine times in La Russa's 16 seasons, won pennants in 2004, 2006 and this year, and won two championships, over Detroit in 2006 and this season, rallying to win the final two games over Texas, including the memorable Game 6 when the Cardinals trailed five times and were down to their last strike in two innings. His teams were successful on the field and in the stands — the Cardinals drew 3 million fans in 13 of La Russa's 16 seasons.