"Other than some of the personal attachments, I feel good," La Russa said. "I feel good that this is the right decision."
La Russa said there wasn't a single factor that led to his decision, but he began having doubts about returning for 2012 midway through the season. In late August he told general manager John Mozeliak and other team officials.
La Russa said the timing of those discussions - about the time the Cardinals appeared to be out of wild-card contention before their miraculous run - was pure coincidence. He said he simply felt it was time to go, a feeling that didn't change even as the Cardinals squeaked into the playoffs on the final day of the season, then upset the Phillies, Brewers and Rangers.
He spoke with little emotion at the news conference with one exception, when he paused to compose himself as he thanked his wife, Elaine, and two daughters for putting up without him over much of the past 33 years. But he did say his meeting with players after Sunday's parade and celebration was short but emotional.
"Some grown men cried," La Russa said, then he joked, "I kind of liked that because they made me cry a few times."
Mozeliak said work is under way to find a new manager for the first time since La Russa was hired prior to the 1996 season. A search committee will be formed. Mozeliak did not speculate on how long the process might take.
La Russa answered flatly, "No," when asked if he'll ever manage again. He also said he had no plans to be a general manager, but said he is open to some sort of baseball job in the future.
"Maybe open a bookstore," he said.
La Russa's decision leaves the future of his coaching staff up in the air. Mozeliak said the new manager will be given autonomy to hire his own staff or retain some or all of La Russa's.
As for free agent Albert Pujols, Mozeliak noted that he has a strong relationship with the only manager he's ever played for, but doubted it would be a factor in whether the first baseman stays.
"He probably understood that Tony is not going to manage forever," Mozeliak said.