ST. LOUIS — A Hall of Fame manager and members of two World Series teams for the St. Louis Cardinals were honored Sunday night at the St. Louis Baseball Writers Dinner in St. Louis.
Tony La Russa, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in July, was the final honoree at the writers dinner, which marked its 56th year before a sold-out crowd of more than 1,100 at the Renaissance Grand Hotel.
La Russa, who managed the Cardinals for 16 seasons before retiring in 2011, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 27 along with former managers Joe Torre and Bobby Cox.
La Russa credited Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak for Mozeliak's hiring of Mike Matheny as La Russa's replacement. Matheny has guided the Cardinals into two postseasons.
"As long as Mozeliak is GM, he will never make a better decision than hiring Mike Matheny as manager," La Russa said.
Members of the Cardinals' 2013 World Series team were also honored, along with a number of players from the 1964 World Champion Cardinals team: Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Bob Uecker, Tim McCarver, Mike Shannon, Dick Groat, Charlie James, Jerry Buchek and Phil Gagliano.
"We had a guy who was a pretty good pitcher (Gibson) and we beat the New York Yankees because we had Bob Gibson," Shannon. "We had to figure out another way to win a game because we knew Gibson was going to win three. We had Gibson, and that's all we needed."
Groat fondly recalled his time in a Cardinals uniform.
"Those were three of the happiest years I ever spent in a baseball uniform --here in St. Louis," he said. "I played on two World Series-championship teams (Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960, the Cardinals in '64) and these guys were the best competitors."
Uecker, as expected, entertained the crowd.
"To be honest, I don't ever remember playing here," he said, drawing laughter from the capacity crowd of about 1,000.
A number of 2013 players were honored, including Adam Wainwright, Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, Allen Craig, Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal, Matt Holliday and Shelby Miller.
Retired Redbirds pitcher Chris Carpenter was the opening act for the dinner, drawing a standing ovation from the overflow crowd. Teammate Jason Motte, who like Carpenter missed the season due to injury, received the Darryl Kile Award, given in honor of the late Cardinals pitcher.
Matheny and Mozeliak also received awards from the baseball writers group.