COLUMBIA — Tony La Russa announced his retirement as St. Louis Cardinals manager Monday following the team's World Series clinching victory this past weekend.
Residents of Columbia, home to many Cardinals fans, expressed gratitude and admiration for the man who brought them two World Series championships.
"Who wouldn't want to go out on top?" asked Tom Kayser, a Columbia resident and St. Louis native who attended Game 7. "Especially with the run they had."
Ten and a half games from making the playoffs on Aug. 24, the chances the Cardinals had at getting in the playoffs seemed slim. But after the Atlanta Braves lost their playoff position and the Cardinals made key victories, La Russa's team squeaked into the playoffs.
"It's good for him to go out on a high note," lifetime Cardinals fan Jeremy Bowles said. "He probably only had a couple years left in him anyways."
Some Columbia residents, however, were a bit surprised by La Russa's quick announcement.
"It was a surprise because I thought he'd stay another year," MU student Jim Grundy said.
Despite winning two championships in the last five years, La Russa's tenure and managerial style were sometimes questioned by fans of La Russa.
"I was at times," Grundy said of being a fan of La Russa. "But I didn't agree with some of his pitching moves. I thought he micro-managed a little too much."
"I liked the fact he won so much," said Tom Atkins, a Columbia resident and a Cardinals fan for 60 years. "I understand he was a hard guy to get close to, but he was a good baseball man."
The Cardinals managed to create some of the most memorable moments for fans during their improbable run. One of the most exciting was the Game 6 rally last week.
"We shook the whole apartment complex," Kirstin Brzycki, a student at Central Methodist University, said of watching Game 6.
"I think if you go out on top, to me, that would be the way to go," Brzycki's mom, Lisa Brzycki, said.
For some Cardinals fans in Columbia, adapting to life without La Russa will take some getting used to. The Cardinals now enter unfamiliar territory as they look for a replacement for La Russa after his 15-year stint.
"I don't know the Cardinals without La Russa," Tracy Kirsch said. "This World Series was just the best."
"I'm convinced that with the tradition the Cardinals have — obviously the field manager makes a huge impact — but whoever is in that spot is made for success," St. Louis native Kayser said. "It's because of the support from the fan base and the St. Louis community."