Tony La Russa, Oldest Active Manager In Majors, Retires At 78

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The oldest manager in the majors didn’t have the heart to continue.

Tony La Russa ended a two-year second stint as pilot of the Chicago White Sox Monday on the eve of his 78th birthday. Doctors had told him the job was too stressful for a heart patient.

After winning the American League Central with a 93-69 record last year, La Russa lasted only through August 29 this year. Then he had his pacemaker repaired and missed the remainder of the season.

The White Sox also missed out, slumping under interim manager Miguel Cairo and struggling to reach the .500 level with four games remaining.

Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014 after a 30-year managerial career with the White Sox, A’s, and St. Louis Cardinals, La Russa first retired after winning the 2011 World Series with St. Louis.

Ten years later, he agreed to don a uniform again at the request of White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, a personal friend.

The White Sox had given him a three-year contract, running through 2023, but doctors told him to step away, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY.

La Russa, who also has a law degree, is expected to stay with the team as a special advisor.

La Russa’s age has been an issue this season because of several controversial decisions, including ordering an intentional walk to Trea Turner with a 1-2 count. The move backfired when the next hitter, Max Muncy, hit a three-run homer against Bennett Sousa even though both of them were left-handed.

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A Tampa native who had a brief career as a big-league second baseman, La Russa won three World Series, six pennants, and 13 division titles during 36 years as a manager. Writers named him Manager of the Year four times.

He passed John McGraw on the list of lifetime wins by a manager on June 6 and retired with a total of 2,900 wins and 2,514 losses – a winning percentage of .536.

La Russa’s departure from the managerial ranks makes Houston’s Dusty Baker, 73, the oldest manager in the majors. When the Astros and Braves met in the 2021 World Series, Baker and Atlanta boss Brian Snitker, 66, were the oldest opposing managers in World Series history.

The departure also creates another vacancy in the growing ranks of teams looking for 2023 managers.

That list includes the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, two playoff teams whose fortunes improved after changing managers during the 2022 campaign.

Also looking for pilots are the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels, who hired interim replacements after firing their managers; the Miami Marlins, who parted ways with Don Mattingly after seven seasons; and the White Sox.

Changes could also be coming in Kansas City, where Dayton Moore was just let go as president of baseball operations, and several other cities where teams did not live up to expectations.

The long list of experienced but unemployed managers includes Joe Girardi, Fredi Gonzalez, Joe Maddon, Mattingly, Ron Washington, and Walt Weiss plus highly-touted managerial prospects Carlos Beltran, Joe Espada, and Joe McEwing.