CHICAGO — Tony La Russa’s surprising return to manage the Chicago White Sox took another turn late Monday when ESPN, citing court records, reported the Hall of Famer was charged with driving under the influence after a February arrest in Arizona.
The case was filed Oct. 28 — one day before the Sox announced La Russa’s hiring — according to the Maricopa County Justice Courts website.
A White Sox spokesman confirmed to the Chicago Tribune that the organization was aware of the arrest before hiring La Russa.
“Because this is an active case, we cannot comment further at this time,” the spokesman said.
When ESPN reached him Monday night, La Russa said, “I have nothing to say,” and hung up.
A “high-ranking” Sox official told USA Today that “La Russa is in no danger of losing his job or receiving any discipline by the club.”
It’s the second known DUI arrest for La Russa, 76, who was arrested in March 2007 in Jupiter, Fla., after he was found asleep at the wheel with his vehicle running and in park at a stop sign. He pleaded guilty to that charge eight months later.
“I accept full responsibility for my conduct and assure everyone that I have learned a very valuable lesson and that this will never occur again,” he said in a statement at the time, according to an Associated Press story.
According to an affidavit cited by ESPN, La Russa allegedly ran his car into a curb on Feb. 24 near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. He told a responding officer he had been at dinner with friends and hit something and had a tire blow out.
The officer detected “a light odor” of alcohol and described La Russa as “argumentative” in the affidavit, ESPN reported. La Russa was taken into custody after a field sobriety test, the report said.
ESPN obtained the full arrest report Tuesday, which included La Russa asking an officer, “Do you see my ring?” Later, according to the ESPN report, he said, “I’m a Hall of Famer baseball person,” and, “I’m legit. I’m a Hall of Famer, brother. You’re trying to embarrass me.”
Free-agent pitcher Marcus Stroman was among those reacting to Monday’s news on Twitter, writing, among other things Tuesday, “It keeps getting worse. Smh!”
The White Sox named La Russa their new manager on Oct. 29, replacing Rick Renteria, who guided the Sox to their first winning record since 2012 and first playoff appearance since 2008.
The Sox and Renteria parted ways on Oct. 12, less than two weeks after the Sox lost to the Oakland Athletics in three games in a best-of-three American League wild-card series. Renteria is one of three finalists for AL Manager of the Year. The winner will be announced Tuesday evening.
La Russa hasn’t managed since 2011, when he led the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series championship. His major league managerial career began at age 34 with the Sox. He went 522-510 from 1979 to 1986 and won the AL West in 1983.
The Sox had a 26-38 record when La Russa 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.
He is a three-time World Series winner (1989 A’s, 2006 and 2011 Cardinals), is third all time in managerial victories and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
©2020 Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.