View Full Version : LaRussa's playing days/Sox

12-15-2006, 02:37 AM
I guess you could add Tony LaRussa as one of those surprises (see thread below) who had a playing affiliation with the White Sox.

On this date, the Sox sent minor league infielder Tony LaRussa to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for pitcher Randy Wiles.

LaRussa was signed by the White Sox in April of 1975 after he was released by the Pirates. LaRussa spent 1975 at the Sox Triple-A affiliate in Denver and hit .280 with seven homers and 46 RBIs as part of the Bears’ Western Division winning team. The following year, LaRussa hit .259 with four homers and 34 RBIs for the Sox Triple-A team at Iowa.

This time in the White Sox organization was crucial for LaRussa. It was at these two stops that LaRussa played for manager Loren Babe. It was Babe who recommend LaRussa for the Sox managerial post at Double-A Knoxville in 1978. After one full season in Knoxville and part of a season at Triple-A Iowa, LaRussa was hired by the Sox to replace Don Kessinger as manager and one of the great managerial careers in big league history was born.

12-15-2006, 03:13 PM
LaRussa actually played one game for the Cubs. I remember seeing him come in as a pinch runner when I came home from school and caught the end of the 1973 opener. Apparently it was his last major league game. I don't know if he was sent down or sold after that game, but I always thought of Tony LaRussa as an A's player who ended up with the Cubs.

Also, it seems that LaRussa, a middle infielder, and Ken Harrelson, a first baseman and outfielder, both broke in with the Kansas City A's in 1963. LaRussa was three years younger, but made his MLB debut a month earlier. They may have been teammates in the minor leagues, although LaRussa didn't come back up with the A's until the end of the 1968 season, by which time Harrelson was traded and the A's had moved to Oakland.

Of course, it was Harrelson, in his stint as White Sox general manager, who fired Tony LaRussa, where he could gain respect, returning to the A's to manage the steroid-assisted Bash Brothers before returning to Missouri and winning a World Series championship for the Cardinals.