On the field, La Russa is all business; off the field, he’s all approachability

In light of the St. Louis Cardinals’ recent division clinch (woo hoo!), I wanted to say a few words about Tony La Russa.

This picture perfectly captures Tony’s demeanor during every Cardinal game. He’s like stone. Dark glasses. Very little emotion. A perfect baseball poker face. Now, he does that strategically. And that’s one reason he’s the second highest winning coach in Cardinals history.

Off the field, however, Tony is different. Ask anyone who’s ever met him in person, and they’ll say he’s totally real, totally approachable. In fact, I used to talk to Tony all the time when I worked at the Ritz.

But I’ll never forget October 28th, 2004. That was the day AFTER the Cards got swept by the Red Sox. And that was also the day Tony’s Escalade pulled up to the front drive when I was the only employee out there.

Oh shit.

He went inside without much to say. I parked his car on the drive and anxiously awaited his return from the Cigar Bar.

Geez, should I say something? I thought.

A few hours later he came out for his car. And I decided I HAD to say something.

“Mr. La Russa, I just wanted to say…uh, thanks for a great season. It was unforgettable.”

And then he said three words I’ll never forget:

“Call me Tony.”


Do first or nick names change someone’s approachability?

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag


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