Tony La Russa went to his bullpen to get the final six outs of Sunday afternoon’s game against the Detroit Tigers. The move paid off as Aaron Bummer and Liam Hendriks were each able to retire the side and lock down a 3-0 victory. With the Chicago White Sox victory, Tony La Russa surpassed John McGraw for sole possession of second place in major league history with 2,764 wins.
Tony La Russa made MLB history with the Chicago White Sox Sunday victory.
Closer, Liam Hendriks striking out Nomar Mazra was a fitting way to end La Russa’s record-breaking win. La Russa modernized how the modern bullpen is used and racked up a good chunk of those wins using Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley.
The White Sox players recognized the moment. Each one embraced the 76-year old with a hug following the game. Adam Engel even had his jersey removed from the wash so Tony La Russa could sign it in the locker room.
The only manager with more wins than Tony La Russa is Connie Mack who accumulated 3,731 victories over his 53 years as a manager. That is a record that may never be broken. Still, this is a monumental achievement for La Russa who has already established himself as one of the greatest managers in baseball history.
“It feels very similar to getting into Cooperstown,” said the Hall of Fame skipper after the game. He was very sentimental about his achievement while also crediting all the players and coaches that helped him get to this point.
Tony La Russa began his Hall of Fame career with the White Sox. He led them to a division title in 1983, a team that is still regarded as one of the best in White Sox history. His 2,764th win came while wearing the same 1983 uniforms that he wore in his first stint as a big-league manager. The connection was not lost on La Russa.
"“It’s real emotional for me that it started here and that it ended here. And the fact that it’s wearing this uniform is beyond belief.”"
After being fired by General Manager Ken Harrelson in 1986, he went onto manage the Oakland A’s where he won three pennants and one World Series title. In 1996 he took his talents to St. Louis where he would win three pennants and two more world series titles. He retired after winning the World Series in 2011 and was elected into Cooperstown in 2014.
La Russa came out of retirement this offseason when the White Sox hired him in October. The move did not come without its fair share of criticism. Even throughout the season, La Russa has been marred in controversy.
First, it was the news of his DUI arrest, then several mismanaged games early, culminating in a media circus surrounding La Russa’s decision to publicly scold Yermin Mercedes for hitting a home run on a 3-0 pitch, then failing to defend him the next day when the Twins threw a pitch at him.
Despite the weekly sideshows, La Russa has guided the White Sox to a 36-23 record. They currently sit atop the AL Central Standings and have the second-best record in the American League. Tony La Russa deserves credit for how he has worked everyone into the lineup and overcome injuries to two of his best players.
His playing time for Billy Hamilton has allowed him to flourish into a fan favorite, while Jake Lamb is proving to be a valuable left-handed bat. He is also giving his starting pitchers more of a leash as they continue to dominate.
Tony La Russa will continue to get criticized as the season wears along. But for now, we can all appreciate what a tremendous accomplishment 2,764 wins are. White Sox fans hope there is more where that came from.