Thirty-three years is a long time. A literal eternity, in fact, to some.
For Tony La Russa, 33 years was his career as a Major League manager.
"It's just time to do something else, and I knew it," La Russa said Monday morning in a news conference to announce his retirement. "If we won, if we lost, it wasn't going to change."
La Russa drove Brewers fans crazy for decades, but his track record is nothing short of incredible. In all, 5,097 regular season games managed. He has 2,728 wins, third all-time in baseball history, and a mere 35 wins away from second-place John McGraw. He is only one of two coaches/managers to have been at the helm for more than 5,000 games in any North American professional sport. Connie Mack, who both owned and managed the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 seasons, is the only other.
"Other than some of the personal attachments, I feel good," La Russa said. "I feel good that this is the right decision."
We all know the records: six pennants, three World Series championships, a four-time Manager of the Year. Someone who was so well thought of by the Oakland A's that he was snapped up by them almost as soon as he was fired by the Chicago White Sox – midway through the 1986 season.
To try to put La Russa's five decades of managerial experience into perspective, the Brewers had been in Milwaukee for just nine years when he managed his first game against them. Jimmy Carter was President of the United States. The week before La Russa became a big league manager, Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" was released. Even with an energy crisis, the cost for a gallon of gas was 86 cents.
Among the events of the world that have happened since La Russa started racking up wins as a manager: The Iran hostage crisis began and ended; so did the space shuttle program.
The 1980 "Miracle on Ice" U.S. hockey team won gold at Lake Placid during Tony La Russa's managerial career. John Lennon was murdered. Albert Pujols was born. ESPN, CNN and MTV were launched.