With the White Sox 3-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday afternoon, Sox manager Tony La Russa has become the second-winningest manager in Major League Baseball History. Closer Liam Hendriks saved secured win number 2764 of La Russa’s managerial career. The Hall of Fame manager surpasses John McGraw and now is only behind legendary manager Connie Mack.

La Russa’s Managerial Career Has Been Historic All The Way Through

La Russa’s managerial career started back in 1979 when he became the White sox manager towards the end of the 1979 season in which the team went 27-27 with him as the new manager. He would be Chicago’s manager for the next seven seasons overseeing the 1983 Western Division Championship team. La Russa was fired by then-general manager Hawk Harrelson after a 26-38 record to start the 1986 season. The firing is viewed as one of the worst mistakes in franchise history as owner Jerry Reinsdorf has regretted the firing since it took place.

After being fired by Harrelson, the 42-year old manager was hired by the Oakland A’s less than three weeks later. La Russa would oversee one of the best team’s in baseball history as the late 80s Oakland A’s would appear in three consecutive World Series from 1988 to 1990, winning the 1989 World Series. The Hall of Fame manager oversaw a team that featured Hall of fame and All-Star players such as Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Ricky Henderson, Dave Stewart, and Dennis Eckersley. From 1986 to 1995, La Russa would win four division titles with the Oakland A’s.

La Russa’s next managerial job would be the most memorable of his career as he was hired by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996 and would be with the Cardinals for the next sixteen seasons. He would lead St. Louis to nine playoff appearances, including three National League Pennants and two World Series Championships. La Russa’s final season with the Cardinals would be a World Series-winning season as they defeated the Texas Rangers in seven games.

Following the end of the 2020 season, White Sox ownership shocked the MLB community when the team hired La Russa after being out of the game since 2011. Although many cited his Hall of Fame resume, his age and time away from the game were a massive concern for both the media and fans. In total, La Russa has won 557 games with the White Sox, 798 with the A’s, and 1,409 games with the Cardinals.

La Russa Has Had A Controversial Return With The White Sox

Although the White Sox are currently in first place in the American League Central by four games over the Cleveland Indians, La Russa has endured several issues in his first season back with the White Sox since 1986. He has had several managerial mistakes, whether with the bullpen, leaving a starter in too long, questionable lineups, and overuse of bunts. La Russa also dealt with Yermin Mercedes’ home run controversy as many believe that he wasn’t supportive of his players after questioning Mercedes’ home run on a 3-0 count.

Following Sunday’s victory, the entire team hugged La Russa on the field as part of the celebration of him becoming the second-winningest manager in MLB history. It is unlikely that he will catch and surpass Mack as the winningest manager as Mack has 3,731 wins. It is unknown how long La Russa will be the White Sox manager as he is currently 76-years old and could retire again if the team wins the World Series this year.

Despite his mistakes through the first 58 games of this season, if La Russa can lead the White Sox to a deep playoff run while avoiding any costly managerial mistakes, fans will be happy with him. Although many still hate the team’s decision to re-hire him as the manager, they will not argue if he leads the team to a World Series title.

Steve Pusch
Eastern Illinois University graduate, Steve earned a Bachelor’s in Journalism with a concentration in sports. While at EIU, Steve co-hosted a weekly radio sports talk show focused on Chicago.