I won’t have a chance to watch it, but I will be cheering anyway.
Tonight, when the St. Louis Cardinals officially retire Tony La Russa’s jersey number, I will be in Tulsa, Okla., watching our 14-year-old daughter, Emma, dance. I thought about telling my wife that I couldn’t go to Tulsa tonight because I had to stay home and watch the retirement ceremony. But, once, I also thought about taking up skydiving.
The only difference between telling my wife that I couldn’t watch Emma dance because I had to watch Tony’s retirement ceremony on TV and jumping out of an airplane is that, at least with a parachute, there is a chance I might survive the latter.
As most baseball fans know, last fall Tony led the Cardinals to a second World Series championship with him as manager. A few days later, Tony decided that after some 50 years wearing a baseball uniform, it was time to hang up the cleats.
I can see that. With 2,728 career wins and three World Series championships in two different leagues, I don’t see that Tony had anything else to prove. Sure, if Tony had come back this year, he likely would have passed legendary manager John McGraw, who is second on the all-time win list. But I’m pretty sure that wasn’t something that concerned Tony.
I think Tony thought about what he wanted to do and did it. That sort of thinking, by the way, has made Tony a divisive figure among some baseball fans. For all of Tony’s accomplishments, it always used to amaze me that many otherwise sane baseball fans didn’t like him.
To some, Tony was a showboat, a guy who thought he was more important than the players on the field, who thought he was smarter than anyone else in the game. Tony kept an offseason home near San Francisco — something that bothered many St. Louis fans.
“Hmmm. Spend the winter in St. Louis or spend it in California. Decisions, decisions.”
Tony is a vegetarian. What sort of baseball guy is a vegetarian? Gee, maybe one who knows what really goes into baseball stadium hot dogs.
Tony has a law degree. What sort of baseball guy is a lawyer? Look, this is the 21st century. We now have a president who supports gay marriage. Surely we can open up major league baseball to lawyers.
The thing is, Tony didn’t showboat. He never said or indicated that he was more important than the players on the field. Nor did he ever indicate that he was smarter than anyone else in the game. He just did what he thought would help his team win.
Depending on your point of view, Tony is either given credit or blame for changing the way relief pitchers are used today. Many baseball fans think Tony’s numerous pitching changes (he made 15 pitching changes two days after he retired) were unnecessary.
I don’t know. All I know is that — as I pointed out earlier — Tony retired with 2,728 wins.
While he was in St. Louis, Tony was mocked because he sometimes dared to bat the pitcher eighth rather than the traditional ninth. Baseball “experts” were aghast at such a move. But Tony didn’t worry much about the “experts.”
Tony had a guy named Albert Pujols on his team. Albert may be off to a slow start this year, but when Tony had him, Albert was the best player and the most feared hitter in the game. All Tony wanted to do by batting the pitcher eighth was give Albert a chance to drive in more runs.
So tonight, the St. Louis Cardinals will retire Tony’s number 10, and I won’t be able to watch.
But somewhere in Tulsa, I’ll be cheering.
I won’t have a chance to watch it, but I will be cheering anyway.
- Local News
Second defendant sentenced in Joplin murder; man assessed 15 years in slaying of Jacob Wages
Circuit Judge David Mouton assessed Cody Stephens 15 years in prison Friday for his role in the home-invasion murder of 23-year-old Joplin resident Jacob Wages. Stephens, 22, pleaded guilty Dec. 6 to second-degree murder and first-degree burglary in a plea deal capping the prison time he might receive at no more than 15 years.
Runners to inaugurate trail in Walnut Bottoms
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10 restaurants participating in fundraiser for Camp Mintahama
Those who go out to eat on Wednesday night will have an opportunity to Dine Out with a Scout. That is the name Girl Scout troop leader Lisa Nelson has given the event designed as a fundraiser for Camp Mintahama, a Girl Scout camp south of Joplin.
PSU, city praised for partnership during kick-off to annual community campaign
Rich Luker, perhaps best known for his creation of the ESPN Sports Poll in 1994 and a nationally known expert on the idea of “community,” praised Pittsburg State University today as a national model for its partnership with the city of Pittsburg.
Students show off projects at regional History Day contest
Jillian Lopes knew she wanted to research the Holocaust for this year’s History Day competition, but the subject was far too broad. So she whittled it down until she was focused on Irena Sendler, a non-Jewish Polish woman who worked to save children during the Holocaust and whose life later became the subject of a play called “Life in a Jar.”
MSSU panel prepares presidential job advertisement for publication
The advertisement for the president’s job at Missouri Southern State University could be published as early as next week, the university’s search committee was told Friday. The ad will run in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a print and online publication for higher education professionals, for 60 days, said Darren Fullerton, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, and a member of the committee.
Hundreds of Four-State Area students turn out to mark 40th PSU Jazz Festival
What began as an event with 13 high school bands has grown into what organizers believe to be the biggest event of its kind in the Midwest, drawing not just students, but internationally known professional musicians. On Friday, 66 area high school bands participated in the 40th Annual Pittsburg State University Jazz Festival, which celebrates a style of music considered to be the only original American art form.
Kansas high court: School funding unconstitutional
In a highly anticipated ruling Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court said the state’s current public school funding levels are unconstitutional and sent the case back to lower court for more review. In the 110-page decision, the court said Kansas’ poor school districts were harmed when the state made the decision to cut certain payments when tax revenues declined during the Great Recession.
MSSU student to attend posthumous awarding of honor for grandfather
As Missouri Southern State University student Savannah Schwab, unable to sleep, gazed out the window at a moonlit night from her bedroom in Fort Scott, Kan., her thoughts turned to her late grandfather. She had listened to an hour or so of the World War II veteran’s audio recordings that recounted his experiences as a member of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, 15th Infantry Regiment.
Last defendant sentenced in Pittsburg slaying
Nathan Whitney expressed remorse Thursday when he became the last of four young Joplin men assessed prison terms for the murder of Ryan Bailey two years ago in Pittsburg. The 29-year-old defendant listened to Bailey’s wife and adoptive mother render emotional victim-impact statements at his sentencing hearing in Crawford County District Court before standing up and responding to their loss.
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