Tony La Russa, the Hall of Famer who won a World Series with the Oakland Athletics and two more with the St. Louis Cardinals, is returning to manage the White Sox 34 years after they fired him.
The 76-year-old La Russa rejoins the franchise where his big-league managing career began more than four decades ago. He takes over for Rick Renteria after what the White Sox insisted was a mutual agreement to split.
La Russa inherits a team loaded with young stars and productive veterans that reached the postseason for the first time since 2008, only to sputter down the stretch and get knocked out in the wild-card round. The White Sox have never made back-to-back playoff appearances. But after ending a string of seven losing seasons, they are in position to change that.
La Russa becomes the oldest manager in the major leagues by five years. Houston’s Dusty Baker is 71.
La Russa, who started his managing career with the White Sox during the 1979 season, is returning to the dugout for the first time since 2011, when he led St. Louis past Texas in the World Series. He also won championships with Oakland in 1989 and the Cardinals in 2006.
La Russa is 2,728-2,365 with six pennants over 33 seasons with Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis. He was enshrined in Cooperstown in 2014. Only Hall of Famers Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763) have more victories. He and Sparky Anderson are the only managers to win the World Series in the American and National leagues.
The move is a surprise considering how long it’s been since La Russa was in the dugout. General manager Rick Hahn had said the White Sox were looking for someone who has “experience with a championship organization in recent years.”
Former Houston manager AJ Hinch and ex-Boston skipper Alex Cora fit that description. Both were suspended by Major League Baseball for the 2020 season for their roles in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, and both lost their manager jobs. Their punishments ended this week.
Hahn insisted it was a consensus decision between him, Reinsdorf and executive vice president Ken Williams to go with La Russa.