La Russa spends off-day in Big Apple

La Russa spends off-day in Big Apple

CINCINNATI -- Sunday was no fun for manager Tony La Russa, as the Cardinals lost an ugly game to the Pirates. But his Monday was so good that the skipper was in quite a cheery mood at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday afternoon.

La Russa spent the team's off-day in the New York area, visiting a couple of our country's landmarks. Early in the day, he spoke at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and in the evening, he made one final visit to Yankee Stadium, taking in a White Sox-Yankees game in the Bronx.

The manager had been wanting to get back to Yankee Stadium one last time for quite a while, but it was the West Point visit that really made his day. He received a tour of the academy from the commandant, Brigadier General Michael S. Linnington, before speaking to the young men and women who will make up West Point's class of 2009.

"I had huge expectations, and they were exceeded," a beaming La Russa said.

He was joined on the tour by friend and military hero Gen. Hal Moore, well known for his book, "We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young," which was made into the movie "We Were Soldiers." La Russa said that he was well received, but Moore's welcome was something else entirely.

"They introduced me, and you know, [there was some applause]," he said. "Then, Hal Moore, and oh my God, I had goose pimples the size of baseballs. I tell you, it was ... magical. It was a thrilling experience. It got to him too, and he got to them."

After La Russa toured the academy and spoke to the cadets, he headed back into New York City and attended the White Sox-Yankees game. The manager was there as a guest of White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, so he wasn't thrilled at New York's win, but he was nonetheless delighted to make one last visit to the old park.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.