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 apply pressure for a change, despite third-place finishes and winning records in 1955 and 1956. Marion resigned his post on October 25, with full pay for the 1957 season.
“The Señor,” though, would prove to be a most able replacement. Lopez would end up with nine straight winning seasons for the White Sox 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 in Chicago over nine full seasons and two partial ones.
After weeks of rumors and leaks, the White Sox officially announced the signing of Cuban first baseman José Abreu to a record-breaking international deal of six years, $68 million.
The White Sox uncharacteristically outbid more free-spending teams (Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, Marlins and Giants), necessitating a deal that topped the previous record of $42 million for an international free agent (Yasiel Puig, Dodgers). Abreu, given reservations about his all-around play and even his hitting ability in the majors, had been projected as a $54 million player by MLB Trade Rumors.
As we know now, Abreu proved a bargain in nearly every one of his nine White Sox seasons, totaling 31.8 WAR for the club. That places him as the second-best first baseman in franchise history, 11th-best hitter, and 19th-best overall player.
Abreu also received MVP votes in seven of his nine seasons, and won the award outright in 2020.
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 multiyear 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 La Russa’s guidance in 2021, the White Sox won 93 games and the Central Division title 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 lineups 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.