CHICAGO – Tony La Russa didn't envision returning to the dugout when he stood at the podium in Cooperstown six years ago and took his place alongside baseball's greats.
That started to change the past few seasons. And he simply couldn't resist the opportunity the Chicago White Sox gave him.
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.
“How rare it is to get an opportunity to manage a team that's this talented and this close to winning,” La Russa said. “Most of the time your chances are the opposite. The combination of looking forward to getting back down there and ... the White Sox making the call with a chance to win sooner rather than later, I'm excited that they made that choice and looking forward to what's ahead."
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.