Tony La Russa completed his15th season as the Cardinals manager in 2010 and enters the 2011 season as the dean of all active managers. On October 18, 2010, he signed a one-year contract to be the Manager of the Cardinals for a team-leading 16th season. His current 15 seasons are the most continuous years of managerial service with the organization, surpassing Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst (12). La Russa has guided his Cardinal teams to a franchise record 1,318 wins and is tops on the Cards all-time games managed list with 2,429 games.
La Russa has led his Cardinals teams to eight division titles, two National League Pennants and a 10th World Championship title in 2006. In addition to ranking first on the Cardinals all-time games managed list (2,429), he is the 17th manager in Major League history to surpass 2,000 games managed with one team. He currently ranks 3rd on Major League Baseball's all-time managerial wins list with 2,638 and 2nd in alltime games managed with 4,935. With the Redbirds World Series title in 2006, La Russa joined Sparky Anderson as the only managers in Major League history to have won a World Series in both the American and National League, and he and Leo Durocher are the only managers in Major League history to have 500 or more wins with three different teams.
La Russa's Cardinal teams have finished above .500 in 12 of his 15 seasons, including the 2004 and 2005 seasons in which the team recorded 105 and 100 wins, respectively, making La Russa just the second Cardinals manager to oversee two 100- win campaigns. His Cardinals teams have finished no lower than 3rd place in all but three seasons and they have held 1st place or been within a game of 1st place during the month of September in nine of the past 11 seasons. Prior to 2007's 78-84 finish, the Cardinals were the lone National League team to have posted a winning record in every season since 2000.
The 105 Cardinals victories in 2004 were the most by any La Russa-managed club in his career and the 105 wins tied for the second most in Cardinals' franchise history with the 1943 and 1944 clubs. The team's 105-57 record was tops in the Majors in 2004.
La Russa was honored that season with the Negro League Museum's C.I. Taylor Award as Manager of the Year. Tony has also been honored as the N.L. Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in 2002 when the Cardinals won 97 games after he guided the team to the N.L. Central title in an emotion-filled season.
La Russa was hired by the Cardinals on October 23, 1995, after managing for 17 years in the American League with Oakland and Chicago. In his first N.L. season, La Russa guided the Cardinals to the 1996 Central Division title and was named Major League Manager of the Year by the Associated Press. Regarded by his peers as one of the game's top managers, La Russa's honors include Manager of the Year recognition in five seasons, eight N.L. Central Division titles, two N.L. pennants, five A.L. Western Division titles, three A.L. pennants and two World Series championships. He has served as manager of the 2007 and 2005 National League All-Star teams and was a coach for the N.L. All-Star team in both 2003 and 2009.
La Russa began his professional managing career in 1978 with Knoxville of the Class- AA Southern League before taking his first major league managing job on August 2, 1979, with the Chicago White Sox. In seven-plus seasons (1979-86) with the White Sox, La Russa quickly established his managerial acumen. In 1983, he guided Chicago to the A.L. West title and the best record in the major leagues, 99-63. He was rewarded with Manager of the Year accolades from the Sporting News, the Associated Press and the Baseball Writers' Association of America. In 1984, La Russa's White Sox were tied for first place at the All-Star break before finishing fifth with a 74-88 record. He was relieved of his duties on June 19, 1986, and took over as the Oakland manager on July 7. In just his second full year with the A's, La Russa managed the club to an A.L. West-record 104 wins, the A.L. pennant and into the 1988 World Series. He again earned Manager of the Year honors from the BBWAA and the Sporting News. For three straight years, 1988-90, the A's led the major leagues in victories, only the 11th time in history that a team had accomplished such a feat. During that span, La Russa's A's became the first team to win three consecutive A.L. pennants since the 1976-78 New York Yankees.
In 1989, La Russa guided the Athletics to their fourth World Championship since the club moved to Oakland, sweeping the Giants in four straight games during the earthquake-interrupted Bay Bridge Series.
On July 14, 1991, La Russa became the 40th manager in major league history to win 1,000 career games. He earned a third Manager of the Year award in 1992 after steering the A's to their fourth A.L. West title in five years. He is Oakland's all-time leader in games managed (1,471) and victories (798).
The former infielder signed his first pro contract with the Kansas City Athletics on the night he graduated from high school in 1962. He made his major league debut with Kansas City just one year later. La Russa didn't return to the majors again until 1968, this time with the A's of Oakland. He went on to play parts of four seasons in Oakland before concluding his big-league playing career with Atlanta and the Chicago Cubs. Overall, his professional career spanned 16 seasons.
La Russa, the 48th manager in Cardinals history, actually was a member of the organization once previously, when he was a player-coach for the Cardinals Triple-A New Orleans affiliate in 1977.
A graduate of Florida State University's School of Law in 1978, La Russa passed the bar exam in December 1979, making him one of only five lawyer/managers in baseball history. The other four are Monte Ward (New York Giants, Brooklyn and Providence, late 1800s), Hughie Jennings (Detroit, 1907-20, New York Giants, 1924), Miller Huggins (St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees, 1913-29) and Branch Rickey (St. Louis Browns, 1913-15, St. Louis Cardinals, 1919-25). All of La Russa's predecessors are in the Hall of Fame.
La Russa, 66, makes his off-season home in Alamo, Calif., with his wife, Elaine, and their two daughters, Bianca Tai (9/14/79) and Devon Kai (8/17/82). La Russa was born 10/4/44 in Tampa, Fla., and graduated from Jefferson High School in Tampa. He also holds a degree in industrial management from The University of South Florida in Tampa. He is the founder and chairperson of Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) and is an active member in the Cardinals' community foundation, Cardinals Care. He teamed with author H.G. Bissinger ("Friday Night Lights") on a book titled "Three Nights in August" that was released in 2005. La Russa was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.