Tony La Russa manages 5,000th game

MILWAUKEE -- Tony La Russa said reaching 5,000 games as a manager is something that's a credit to everyone he's worked with in three different organizations.

La Russa became the second man to that milestone on Friday night when the St. Louis Cardinals started a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers.

"We all prepare about the same. You got to have ownership that supports you and gives resources to the general manager. The general manager has to be smart. It's really a combination of all that. Anything that drops out lessens your chance to be around. Then you got to put in your piece," La Russa said.

La Russa came into Friday's game with a career mark of 2,676-2,319-4 with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and Cardinals. He's managed the most games in history in both Oakland (1,471) and St. Louis (2,494).

"Well, I have had many more good moments than the other kind," La Russa said. "You can ask any coach, you suffer the losses more than you enjoy the wins. I have 2,000 losses."

When told he had more than 2,300, he joked that any enjoyment he might have during his 5,000th game managed was over. But the 66-year-old was honored before the game on the field with an announcement and he acknowledged the big ovation with a quick wave to the crowd. There were also several signs by fans commemorating the milestone.

"I wasn't aware of it until a couple weeks ago," La Russa said. "Big number. You had to be around some good places to have that kind of opportunity and so I have been. I treat that like career wins."

La Russa is second on the all-time list to Connie Mack, who managed 7,755 games over 53 years with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

La Russa has won the AL manager of the year award three times and the NL award once over a 33-year career that also includes World Series titles with Oakland in 1989 and St. Louis in 2006. He's the only active manager who is also a lawyer, having passed the bar exam in 1979, and he said he's not sure if anyone else will ever reach 5,000 again.

"Five thousand is unbelievable for a manager," Brewers first-year manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's not just hanging around. He's winning a lot. He has with different organizations. It is pretty incredible. That is really hard to think about a guy being around that long and manage that many games."

It seems unlikely anyone will approach La Russa for several decades. Tigers manager Jim Leyland, 66, is closest but he's nearly 2,000 games behind -- the equivalent of about 12 major league seasons.

Dusty Baker of the Cincinnati Reds and Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants are the only active skippers with at least 2,600 games managed.

"You've got to have a crystal ball," La Russa said. "Somebody would have to do this for 30 years and have the organizational support."