ST. LOUIS -- Team president Mark Lamping is leaving the St. Louis Cardinals to oversee construction and operations of the new stadium for the NFL's New York Giants and Jets at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
Lamping will be replaced by Bill DeWitt III, the 40-year-old son of Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. DeWitt officially takes over on April 2 -- two days after the Cardinals open the season at home against defending NL champion Colorado.
"It's been my life, and it's been a lot of fun," Lamping said at a news conference Friday at Busch Stadium.
The move comes months after the Cardinals parted ways with longtime general manager Walt Jocketty, who was replaced by 38-year-old John Mozeliak. On the field, the team has undergone a major facelift, too, trading outfielder Jim Edmonds to San Diego and disgruntled third baseman Scott Rolen to Toronto, losing shortstop David Eckstein to free agency and cutting ties with popular bench player Scott Spiezio after his arrest in California.
But the departure of Lamping caught some off guard.
"I was shocked," Mozeliak said from Jupiter, Fla., where the Cardinals are training. "Obviously, just in my last few months working with him he's just been such an important person in my life.
"I think the Cardinals should be forever grateful for what he did, and I know I'll miss him."
Lamping took over as team president in 1994. He was responsible for the hiring of Jocketty in 1995 and manager Tony La Russa a year later. Under his stewardship the Cardinals renovated old Busch Stadium then moved into the new Busch that opened in 2006, even though state lawmakers agreed to only limited public financing.