The White Sox have hired 76-year-old Tony La Russa as the team’s manager.
In a move that was even more unexpected than the firing of Rick Renteria two weeks ago, the White Sox hired 76-year-old Tony La Russa as the team’s manager Thursday.
La Russa agreed to a multiyear deal.
“We are extremely excited about the future of this team,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. “As we showed in 2020, this is a young, talented club that we expect to only grow better and better in the coming years. Adding in a Hall of Fame manager who is recognized as being one of the best in the history of the game, we are a step closer to our goal of bringing White Sox fans another championship.”
La Russa, a close friend of chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, had been rumored to be a potential replacement ever since Renteria’s departure, but many remained skeptical he would get the job despite his Hall of Fame resume that includes three World Series championships, mostly because of his age and lengthy absence from managing since he won his last title with the Cardinals in 2011.
“While I have had other inquiries about managing since retiring, this opportunity with the White Sox brings together a number of important factors that make this the right time and the right place,” La Russa said. “The on-field talent is amazing, and the front office, led by [vice president] Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn, has done everything necessary to create an atmosphere of long-term success. All of those factors aligned to make this a tremendous opportunity, and I am excited to get going as soon as possible by building a coaching staff and getting to work.”
Tony La Russa, a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame, the third-winningest manager in baseball history, a three-time World Series champion and a four-time winner of the Manager of the Year Award, has been named the new manager of the Chicago White Sox. pic.twitter.com/RKP24rleHP
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) October 29, 2020
Hahn had said the next manager would have recent championship experience and that he would likely go outside the Sox family with an extensive search for the new hire. While AJ Hinch has been widely viewed as the best available candidate, almost no one thought of La Russa, who was hired to manage the Sox in 1979 and fired in 1986 by general manager Ken Harrelson — in what Reinsdorf, 84, has called his greatest regret — as a possibility when Renteria and pitching coach Don Cooper were let go, his friendship with the Sox chairman notwithstanding.
After finishing 35-25 in the abbreviated 60-game season and reaching their first postseason since 2008 under Renteria in the fourth year of a rebuild, the Sox seem positioned to improve on that next season, and La Russa, whose 2,728 wins are third most for a manager behind Connie Mack and John McGraw, was one of the first candidates interviewed to possibly lead them.
La Russa has been away from managing for nine seasons but not out of baseball, assisting executive vice president of MLB operations Joe Torre and holding various positions in the Diamondbacks front office, including an unsuccessful stint as chief baseball officer. He also served as an advisor with the Red Sox, and was the Angels’ senior advisor of baseball operations in 2020.
“As everyone in baseball is well aware, I have always respected Tony and am proud to have maintained a great friendship with him over the decades in the game,” Reinsdorf said. “But his hiring is not based on friendship or on what happened years ago, but on the fact that we have the opportunity to have one of the greatest managers in the game’s history in our dugout at a time when we believe our team is poised for great accomplishments.”
Reaction to the possibility of La Russa getting hired was not going over well with Sox fans. One lifelong fan on 670-AM Thursday morning went as far as saying he would switch his allegiance to the Cubs, just one sampling.