Cardinals manager arrested for DUI in Florida

Updated: March 22, 2007, 7:36 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

JUPITER, Fla. -- St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was arrested Thursday on a drunken driving charge after police said they found him asleep inside his running sport utility vehicle at a stop light.

Tony La Russa
AP photoTony La Russa was hit with a DUI charge 10 days before his Cardinals begin defense of their World Series title.

La Russa gave two breath samples and had a blood alcohol content of 0.093 percent, Jupiter police said in a statement. Florida's legal driving limit is 0.08 percent.

"I'm not sure what type of statement to give," La Russa said after his team's 2-1 spring training loss to the Florida Marlins on Thursday. "I've been scribbling stuff.

"Last night's situation is the opposite of feeling good. It was an embarrassment, so I apologize to anyone who is close to me, members of the Cardinals organization, our fans. I regret it, take responsibility and I'm not sure there is anything else I can say," he said.

Undercover officers saw La Russa's SUV sitting partially in an intersection around midnight and not moving despite two green lights, police said. Officers knocked on the window and La Russa did not initially respond.

The SUV was in drive and running, with La Russa's foot on the brake, police said. When he woke up, the officers asked him to get out of the SUV. La Russa was cooperative during his arrest, police said.

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The 62-year-old La Russa was booked into the Palm Beach County jail on the misdemeanor count about four hours later, according to police and jail records. He was released about 8:30 a.m. after posting $500 cash bond, said Paul Miller, a Palm Beach County sheriff's office spokesman.

When La Russa walked onto the field before Thursday's game, many fans stood and applauded.

"That was a really nice gesture when the game started," La Russa said. "I guess because over the years, you've done things so you don't want it to go in the other direction and that's a couple steps last night, so."

La Russa arrived at Cardinals camp at about 9 a.m. ET on Thursday, got into his uniform and was on the main field as the team went through its morning stretching routine.

At 10 a.m. he went into a previously scheduled meeting with team ownership.

About a dozen reporters were camped outside the Cardinals clubhouse as La Russa passed by on his way into the meeting. When asked if he planned to speak to the media, he said, "I was out on the field ... where were you guys?"

Cardinals spokesman Brian Bartow said La Russa would speak to the media on Thursday, but not about the incident.

"Tony will be happy to take any baseball questions but that's all he's going to be doing," Bartow said. "Obviously there's a legal process and we have to wait for that to play out."

Bartow said that to his knowledge, La Russa had yet to address the team about the incident.

The Cardinals said in a statement that the team takes "these matters very seriously" and apologized for any embarrassment and distractions.

"The Cardinals organization remains supportive of Tony," the team said.

Two St. Louis players said they don't expect La Russa's troubles to be a distraction for the defending world champions.

"I'm sure he'll deal with it and the organization will deal with it and move on," said catcher Gary Bennett. "I don't think it's anything that's going to linger in the clubhouse or we'll have to worry about in the future. That's just my opinion. Whether that's the way it plays out, I don't know."

As details of La Russa's arrest continued to trickle into the St. Louis clubhouse, pitcher Braden Looper expressed support for the Cardinals manager.

"I don't have any clue about what happened. I don't know any of the circumstances," Looper said. "All I know is that he's my manager and I'll be there to support him. He's been like a father to me, through good and bad times. So you have to be there for him."

La Russa is a four-time manager of the year and led the Cardinals to the World Series championship last season. He also won the title in 1989 with the Oakland Athletics and has won three other pennants. His 2,297 wins over 28 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, A's and Cardinals is third on the career list.

The Associated Press and Jerry Crasnick, who covers Major League Baseball for ESPN Insider, contributed to this report.