Examining bond with Belichick, La Russa

Patriots coach Bill Belichick takes an annual trip to Florida in which he scouts college prospects while also taking time to visit with friends. One of his close pals is St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

Belichick has annually visited with La Russa at spring training and did so again this weekend.

Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch captured the scene of La Russa answering questions from reporters before he joked, “I’m going to try to be Bill Belichick in this interview.”

Reading Hummel’s brief description had me wondering how Belichick and La Russa initially connected. This was nicely detailed by John Tomase of the Boston Herald in March of 2009 (Archive access required).

It started in 2004 when they were introduced by author Buzz Bissinger, who had written a book on La Russa and attended Phillips Andover Academy with Belichick.

“Most of the serious conversations we’ve had, the central theme is this: What are you doing to get players’ attention? How do you get them to tune out distractions and buy into the program?” La Russa told Tomase.

“If you can’t get them to pay attention, it doesn’t matter how great the scheme is or how you’re going to run your pitching and defense. A lot of what we talk about is how to keep guys focused and Bill’s a master. He keeps that club hungry year in and year out.”