As St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Mitchell Boggs and his wife Lele took part in the World Series champs' victory parade through downtown St. Louis on Sunday, the Dalton, Ga., native heard manager Tony LaRussa say of his team: "What these guys did so many times facing elimination, it's a lesson for all of us. They never quit."
At that time, Boggs never dreamed that shortly after the parade LaRussa would tell the Cardinals he was calling it quits on a 33-year managerial career that included three world championships (two with St. Louis). The decision was made public earlier today.
"It caught a few of us off-guard," said Boggs over his cell phone as he drove home to Dalton on Monday afternoon. "We expected him to be back. At the same time, I can't imagine a better way for Tony to retire.
"He's certainly going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, I would say. And now I'll get to say I was a part of his last team. To send him out this way is something I'll never forget."
LaRussa's mark on the game will be impossible to forget. He retires as the third-winningest manager in major league history, his 2,728 victories trailing only Connie Mack and John McGraw.
Yet Boggs has no doubt that the Cardinals organization will find a competent replacement as they seek to defend the team's 11th world championship.
"It will be different," he said. "Tony was the face of this franchise for 16 years. At the same time, the St. Louis Cardinals are the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the best organizations in baseball. I expect they'll find a good manager."
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