"[Traveling secretary] C.J. Cherre mentioned to me at dinner that night, after I tied [Schoendienst]," La Russa said, "he said if I was a better player and I would have played as long as Red, I wouldn't even be close to him. Because I was such a lousy player -- Red was a good enough player that he didn't manage long enough to have the record all to himself.
"Put an asterisk next to my name -- lousy player."
Nonetheless, it's another impressive line on La Russa's already Cooperstown-worthy résumé. He's third on the all-time wins list in the history of baseball. He's the only manager with 1,000 wins in each league, and one of two skippers with a World Series championship in each league.
Now he stands atop the list with one of baseball's most historic franchises.
"You're a fool to take it personal, so I try not to be a fool," La Russa said. "What's personal about it? I come here, ownership is committed, Walt [Jocketty, general manager] does a great job, we get players.
"I'm the beneficiary of a lot of pluses here. So what you try to give back is your best effort every day."
La Russa has long asserted that he had no desire to pass Schoendienst, who remains one of the most liked and respected figures anywhere in the Cardinals organization. He even offered to serve as Schoendienst's bench coach, but that's not going to happen anytime soon.
Still, from La Russa's perspective and many others' as well, the occasion is nearly as much about Schoendienst as it is about La Russa.
"Mr. Schoendienst is one of the most respected people around here, him and the other Hall of Famers," said Jim Edmonds. "We have a lot of respect for him, and I think Tony even more than the players. He knows this game more than we all do. It's a milestone for him and it's another record that's been broken, and that's what they're there for. More than anything it's an accomplishment for a man whose longevity and commitment are probably underrated."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.