Hovering near the top of many lists of baseball’s greatest managers of all time is longtime skipper Tony La Russa.
La Russa’s lengthy coaching career, which spans more than three decades, is stamped with success. He has three World Series wins under his belt, along with four Manager of the Year awards. He is third all-time in manager wins and has posted a .536 career win percentage. La Russa entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014 as a unanimous selection.
In October 2020, after a decade-long hiatus from coaching baseball, La Russa announced his return in 2021 as skipper of the Chicago White Sox. At age 76, he becomes the oldest active skipper in baseball. But whether or not he can coach at the elite level he once did remains to be seen.
On Baseball: 'The opportunity is real' for Tony La Russa, ready to prove himself again with a team on the risehttps://t.co/ors8FwwmNa
— Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) March 11, 2021
Early Years as Skipper
La Russa’s first stint as a baseball manager came with none other than the White Sox in 1979. Coaching in Chicago for just over seven seasons, La Russa saw moderate success in the regular season, but could not manage a deep postseason run. The White Sox fired La Russa about halfway through the 1986 season, and he joined the Oakland Athletics as skipper less than three weeks later.
Success became more abundant for La Russa once he went to Oakland. From 1988-1990, La Russa led the A’s to three consecutive World Series appearances, winning in 1989. With the help of offensive powerhouses Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, La Russa and the A’s recorded 96+ wins in four seasons from 1988-1992.
Following a poor 1995 season, La Russa left Chicago to assume the skipper role in St. Louis, replacing longtime rival Joe Torre. La Russa’s tenure with the Cardinals was his most successful. In 16 seasons as the Cardinals skipper, La Russa led his team to eight division titles. In 2006, La Russa won his second World Series and first with St. Louis.
In his last season with the Cardinals in 2011, La Russa led his team to yet another World Series win. Despite the continuous success in St. Louis, La Russa decided to retire in the 2011 offseason, becoming the first coach to retire immediately after winning a World Series.
New Venture with White Sox
Despite being the oldest manager in baseball, La Russa’s decades of coaching give him a large edge in terms of experience. The old saying “with age comes wisdom” may benefit La Russa, but there are others who question his ability to succeed at his age.
The legendary coach seems up to the task though and is working to build chemistry and a winning culture with the White Sox.
Talent always helps a team succeed, and La Russa praised the abilities of the White Sox players. With La Russa having superstar help in the past from guys like Albert Pujols and Mark McGwire, let’s see if the talent in Chicago is enough for him to replicate his previous success.