I have seen numerous countdowns on other blogs covering topics such as favorite Topps set, best rookie card of the 1980s, best player at a certain position for your favorite team, etc. The list could go on forever. With opening day for the Cardinals a short time away, I will be counting down the days with a different Cardinals autographed card featuring a player or two with the corresponding uniform number. There is one number I do not have an autograph for, I will let you guess who or you can wait and see. First up is the #10 worn by Tony LaRussa:
Pictured is a 2010 Topps Tribute jersey/autoed card. Tony managed the Cardinals from 1996-2011, winning 1,408 games and 2 World Series along the way. He sits third all time in managerial wins with 2,728. I doubt if he gets passed on that list anytime soon unless Bobby Cox or Joe Torre come out of retirement. After working in the MLB office for 2 years, Tony took over as Chief Baseball Officer for the Diamondbacks in 2014.
I have mixed feelings for LaRussa. You cannot argue about his success as a manger, and I appreciate him helping the Cardinals win 2 World Series. I just do not like his my way or the highway style of managing. He had numerous run ins with players that forced management into trading them. I can understand the Colby Rasmus trade, but I still have a strong dislike to how he treated Scott Rolen. I also cannot stand his use of relief pictures. Why you need to make 4 pitching changes in the 8th inning with your team up by 5 runs just to ensure the righty/lefty matchup is beyond my understanding.
Tony has also co-writen 2 books about his days with the Cardinals. 3 Nights in August was written in 2005, One Last Strike in 2012. I have not read the later, but do own a copy of 3 Nights. It describes baseball life during a 3 game Series with the Cubs. I have read this book twice. One thing that sticks out in my mind from this book is how LaRussa said he would never call out a player in public. I am sure a few former players will disagree ( see Scott Rolen).
Love him or hate him, LaRussa has a permanent place in Cardinal history. His number is retired by the team, and he was elected into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014. He was also elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014, although he chose not to be pictured in a Cardinals uniform on his plaque.