And after La Russa had etched his name into the baseball record book, his players were waiting for their manager in the clubhouse with a water cooler ready
"This is not sweat," La Russa said, dripping from his postgame victory bath.
The Cardinals' victory on Sunday brought La Russa's career record to 2,500-2,177, but La Russa wanted to deflect the attention.
"You got to be around a long time and you've got to be in great situations, and that what I've been," La Russa said. "And to sit there and watch the effort today -- we had won the series yesterday, and it was hot and a tough game, and you watch these guys -- they're playing their hearts out."
Now La Russa's name will be forever linked with Mack and McGraw, two titans of baseball history.
The legendary Mack compiled a record of 3,731-3,948 while managing the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 seasons.
McGraw, the long-time manager of the New York Giants, was 2,763-1,948 in his career.
"I'm not lumped in with them. I'm not even close to them," La Russ said of the two iconic skippers. "I don't think about it that way. I think about -- and I mean this sincerely -- I think about the good fortune I've had."
La Russa's managing journey began with the White Sox in 1979. He went 522-510 on the South Side of Chicago through 1986. La Russa moved on to Oakland after the '86 season, registering 798 wins and 673 losses with the Athletics from 1986-95.
La Russa went to the World Series three straight years with Oakland from 1988-90 and brought home the crown in '89. In St. Louis, La Russa is 1,180-994 with the Cardinals, including a World Series title in 2006.
"Historically, he's been considered one of the most prepared managers," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
After his milestone win, La Russa didn't want to talk about himself. He wanted to talk about two of his contemporaries instead.
"Probably the two guys that I grew up with that I feel were great managers were [Jim] Leyland and Tom Kelley," La Russa said. "And if they were in my situation, they'd have the 2,500 and I'd have less."
Rustin Dodd is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.