CHICAGO — The Chicago White Sox stunned the baseball world Thursday, announcing the hiring of Tony La Russa as their new manager.
It’s a blast from the past for the franchise with the return of La Russa, who led the Sox to a division title in 1983.
The Hall of Famer will look to do it again — and more — in a surprising return to the organization.
“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 in a statement. “The on-field talent is amazing, and the front office, led by 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.”
La Russa, 76, last managed in 2011, when he guided the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title. He won three World Series as manager of the Oakland Athletics (1989) and Cardinals (2006, ’11).
“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,” said Jerry Reinsdorf, White Sox chairman, in a statement. “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.”
La Russa replaces Rick Renteria, who led the Sox to their first playoff appearance since 2008 this season.
The Sox and Renteria parted ways Oct. 12, less than two weeks after the Sox lost to the A’s in three games in a best-of-three American League wild-card series.
La Russa has a 2,728-2,365 career record in 33 seasons and is third all time in managerial victories. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.
La Russa’s major league managerial career began with the Sox, with whom he went 522-510 from 1979 to 1986 and won the AL West title in 1983. The Sox had a 26-38 record when he was fired on June 20, 1986, by Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, who was in his first — and only — year as the baseball operations chief after being moved from the broadcast booth. Less than a month later, La Russa became the A’s manager.
It was a decision Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf later regretted, according to a June 21, 2006, Chicago Tribune article. In the article, Reinsdorf told MLB.com: “It was the second-worst decision I ever made. The worst decision was hiring Harrelson as a general manager and the second worst was letting him fire the manager.”
La Russa returns to a team filled with young talent, including Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito, Luis Robert, Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez. Jose Abreu, Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel are among the veteran leaders.
The Sox are banking on La Russa’s vast experience to help the group take the next step.
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