ST. LOUIS -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was overjoyed when he found out that the St. Louis Cardinals would be retiring the uniform of former manager Tony La Russa in a ceremony prior to Friday's opener at Busch Stadium.
"I'm so happy that we are here for this," Gonzalez said. "He's great guy and I learned a lot from him."
Gonzalez said during last season, his first as Braves' manager, he sought out La Russa for advice.
"He treated me like I had been in the game for years, like I was [former Braves manager] Bobby Cox," Gonzalez noted. "I would watch him and pay attention to what he would do and why he would do it. He was not afraid to push the envelope every game, every inning. He would roll the dice where most guys wouldn't."
La Russa's No. 10 became the 12th number retired by the Cardinals. He posted 2,728 wins, third all time behind John McGraw (2,763) and Connie Mack (3,731).
Chipper Jones was also pleased to able to watch the pregame ceremony. The future Hall of Famer is well aware of La Russa's impact on the game.
"You can't do what he's done without being great at what you do," Jones said. "I certainly have a lot of respect for him and everything he's accomplished in his career. He's going to go down as one of the two or three best managers of all time."
Gonzalez made sure his players paid full attention to the ceremony.
"Who wouldn't want to be a part of something special like that?" Jones said. "I try to never miss occasions such as this."
La Russa announced his retirement in October, after leading St. Louis to its 11th World Series championship.