Former St. Louis Cardinals managers Tony La Russa and Red Schoendienst addressed the media prior to Game 2 of the NLCS.
Q. Actually, I’m just curious, from the point of view of having Red on staff, Mike talked about just the ways in which it had an emotionality impact on the players and other coaches. But just some specific ways that he helped you just in terms of day‑to‑day, and the way you were able to utilize his institutionality knowledge through the years?
TONY LA RUSSA: They used to ask me a lot of times after work if the gamblers had gotten to me, and that was really helpful. No, I think the history of the Cardinals, they keep their great players around a lot. So Brock, Gibson, they’re all really helpful. But the difference with Red is that he’s there from the first day of spring training to the last. He was here at 2 o’clock this morning, and he watches every pitch. It’s amazing, his insights. It could come from the hitting side, the infield side, the pitching side. He’s always a source of the Cardinal history too, so that counts for a lot.
Q. The Cardinals have been in eight Championship Series in the last 14 seasons, and 11 playoffs in the last 18, what’s that signify to both of you guys? What’s that signify?
RED SCHOENDIENST: Well, any time you can be in this many playoff games and trying to get to the World Series, I think it’s outstanding for the Cardinals, for any club. I really didn’t understand all of what you were saying. I can’t hear a word.
Q. That was it.
TONY LA RUSSA: Actually, a bunch of us that were here in ’96 were together and talked about this. I didn’t talk to the Benes they were there. But the coaches, Duncan, Honeycutt is here now, and George Hendrick, and Dave McKay. I think about the middle of the 2000, DeWitt said it the best. He came into spring training the first day and he made it a point because we were already starting to roll pretty good. He put things in perspective that all of that was a current stretch of good play. But he wanted the club to understand what the history of the organization was, I mean, back in Red, and Stan, Terry Moore and those guys, the Deans. I really think our guys paid attention to that. I know we did.
The point I was making is that when we talked recently, we remembered in ’96 the organization kind of had lost its way a little bit and how hard it was to get it back going. Once it’s back on track, I’ve read comments that the Dodgers have made and Pirates made about being a model franchise, and it really is. It starts at the top, goes to the history. I just think each club wants to add to the history.
RED SCHOENDIENST: Well, I think, Tony, the big thing too is the scouting department and the coaching that you had and then what Mike has right now, and it starts up there in the front office with just the people being in the front office. They do their job. Then you’ve got your scouting and you’ve got all your‑‑ they’ve got a great Minor league managers and coaches down there in the Minor leagues. I think that’s what makes a ballclub.
Q. Ten years ago you guys traded for Adam Wainwright. Could you just talk about his development over the years? He’s now regarded as a great big‑game pitcher, ace of the staff?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think it starts with guys that relish. It’s not imposed on them. He wanted to be the guy. Even when Carpenter was the guy, he kept saying I’m next in line. I’m ready.
You feel it here. But in Adam’s case, I know it was a very difficult trade for Atlanta to make. They just wanted JD so bad they put him in there. You talk about‑‑ I think there were some real similarities. They’ve got some young guys that are stepping up late in the game.
Adam, his first year in the big leagues was 2006, and he’s closing out the World Series. He’s very, very special. He wants to be the guy. He reminds me, he’s like Dave Stewart. He wanted to be the guy. Clark wanted to be the guy. And they are critical to any club that wants to win a lot of games. You’ve got to have the guy that’s willing to step up.
The last thing, I don’t want to talk too much, but it’s a great subject, the number one guy, he teaches the other guys. Carpenter taught Wainwright, and Adam’s teaching these other guys, it’s a wonderful tradition.
Q. What have you enjoyed most through all the years with the Cardinals? And Tony, is Red rare or maybe even unique in baseball for what he’s meant to the Cardinal organization?
RED SCHOENDIENST: Well, I was pretty fortunate. I was lucky enough that they gave me the opportunity to play, like Branch Rickey who was here at the time, and Mr. Sam Breadon owned the club.
When I came in and hitched, I came from a little town about 50 miles from here. I had a tryout, and then Joe Mathis, and Walter Shannon, who were the head scouts at the time, they had another tryout in Peoria, Illinois, and then after I’d left‑‑ we had so many people here from St. Louis. Joe Garagiola and Yogi Berra was here at the same time when I was here. They had to turn all the people, the players that were from St. Louis, they had to send them home that first day because there were so many, and they just worked out the guys from out of town. They kept me over.
Then Mathis and Walter Shannon, they left, and they sent me home. They said they’d be calling me. When they came back, they wanted to know what happened to that skinny kid. And they called me back and they signed me to a contract at the time. I know Mr. Rickey says we’re going to give you the opportunity to play, and I said that’s all I want to know. I’m just going to try for three years. If I can’t get up in the big leagues in three years, I’ll find something else to do. I’ll go back to school and learn a trade of some kind. He said I like that attitude, and that was it. I kept going from there.
TONY LA RUSSA: He’s rare. You get over here and it was Red and Stan. I mean, they’re perfect. They were champions on the field, off the field. Fans, respect the game and respect the fans. I remember, again, getting here it was Red, George Kissel, Jack Buck, Mike Shannon. Those guys pull you aside, and they tell you what the history is and what your responsibility is to keep it going.
I think the thing that I mentioned earlier is still unique. I said how you feeling? I said, well, I didn’t get at the park at 2:00 o’clock. Red is paying attention every minute from the first day of spring training till the end. And I don’t know that any other organization as great as their guys are that anybody else is like Red as far as the attention that he gives. It’s a smart attention.
In fact, it’s so much so that he knows‑‑ I speak for many people‑‑ he’s beloved. I always told him be careful when I see him. I’ll kiss you right on the lips.
Q. The postseason is always kind of a star‑studded event here because there’s Hall of Famers that come back and the pre‑game ceremonies are always a lot of pomp and circumstance, and you’re throwing out first pitch today as the all‑time winningest managers in club history. Can you just speak to what it means to be part of this organization and this organization’s history?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I don’t know if you’ve seen the script or not, but we’re doing something that’s really appropriate. Because Red mentioned front office, the scouts, the guys in development, the minor league managers, the instructors, well, along with us when we go out there are going to be two people that have been here for a lot of that history. That’s our director of travel, C.J. Cherre, he’s going to catch Red. And Judy Barada who has been here forever. She’s going to present the balls. And then I asked Chad Blair, who came with us from Oakland, so he’s been here 18 years. He is such a respected extra coach in that video room. I think that tells you everything.
The success of this organization is very high and it’s deep, and it’s going to be represented out there today.
RED SCHOENDIENST: All your ex‑players that have been playing for the Cardinals with Gussie Busch, Anheuser‑Busch owning the club, and now our new owners, they always have the old‑timers come back in some capacity where they appreciate what they’ve done and everything. I know we’ve talked about it. And Gibson last night, he said it’s always great to come back.
Q. Do you miss managing, and would you ever be open to managing again?
TONY LA RUSSA: If I could only miss managing October, I’d be back every year. It’s so much fun, so immediate. But I don’t miss the managing. I miss the winning and losing. There is a big difference to the two.
Q. Would you be open to managing again?
TONY LA RUSSA: In October only, so that means no managing.
Q. Red, just asking about the 1967 World Series, can you talk about how you managed that October?
RED SCHOENDIENST: Well, I had a leadoff man who was a pretty good guy. He’d sell a lot of tickets. And I had a pitcher that was pretty damn good out there too. So when you’ve got guys like that. I had some guys, Mike Shannon, and we got Maris, when he went in the outfield. We worked out Shannon in the winter time. Joe Schultz one of my coaches said at the ballpark right next door to this one, and the football Cardinals were here at the time, and they’d be tearing up that field. We were out there and it would be frozen ground, and we’d hit balls to Shannon in the winter time, and they said, well, he can’t play third base. He jumped in front of everything.
Shannon’s a winner. I don’t care what you say, what he does or anything. He’s going to give you a hundred percent where he can win. I said we’ve got a third baseman. I said, he may not be a Kenny Boyer or something like that, but he’ll get the job done, and he did. We won with guys like that. Then Tommy Herr coming around, and Maxi (Dal Maxvill) playing short.
The one guy that was really underrated, I think, was our centerfielder Flood. Yeah, he was a good second‑place hitter and with Brock leading off. We had a good, solid ballclub.
Topics: St Louis Cardinals