Eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox — Swede Risberg, Chick Gandil, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, Happy Felsch and Fred McMullin — were indicted for throwing the World Series, which the White Sox lost, five games to three. The grand jury returned five counts of conspiracy to obtain money by false pretenses and/or via a confidence game against these eight “Black Sox.”
The group was exonerated by a Chicago jury the next summer but were nonetheless banned for life by the baseball commissioner.
Al Lopez replaced Marty Marion as White Sox manager. Marion, who did a fine job in replacing Paul Richards, had missed an important board meeting to be with his family at an event. It was all the excuse the Sox needed to let him go, despite third-place finishes and winning records in 1955 and 1956.
“The Senor,” though, would prove to be a most able replacement. Lopez had nine straight winning seasons with the club and copped the 1959 American League pennant. Many say he was the finest manager in team history. He holds the franchise record for the highest winning percentage for any manager who lasted at least five full seasons (.562). Lopez eventually won 840 games over nine full seasons and two partial ones.
Larry Himes was hired as the new White Sox GM, replacing Ken Harrelson. Himes drafted and signed White Sox future stars like Frank Thomas, Jack McDowell, Robin Ventura and Alex Fernandez. He would be fired in September 1990 after philosophical differences between him and ownership, in particular Jerry Reinsdorf, made working together impossible.
In a move that stunned the baseball world and angered many White Sox fans, Hall-of-Famer Tony La Russa was announced as the new manager, signing a multi-year contract.
La Russa began his managing career with the Sox from 1979-86, posting four winning seasons and taking the 1983 Western Division championship. But he hadn’t managed since retiring at the end of the 2011 season with the Cardinals, and his age was a concern to many given the global pandemic.
La Russa, though was at the forefront of the analytical revolution in baseball, was the first manager to set up a bullpen to bridge pitchers to a “closer,” and won World Series titles in Oakland and St. Louis. Since 2011 he had worked in the front offices for Arizona, Boston and the Angels.
With the White Sox feeling they had moved into serious contention for championships with a young, talented team, La Russa appeared to be, in their minds, the man to take them to the next level. At 76, he became the third-oldest person to manage a major league team, behind Connie Mack and Jack McKeon.
Under his guidance and despite crippling injuries, the White Sox won 93 games and the Central Division title in 2021 before losing to the Astros in the ALDS.
The 2022 season, though, was another story, as La Russa was heavily criticized for some bizarre managerial decisions, unusual lineup combinations and his awkward rambling press conferences. His difficult season culminated in him having to leave the club before a game on August 30 due to health concerns, and retiring for good, on doctors’ orders, at year’s end.