Tony La Russa, who guided the White Sox to a 99-win season and their first playoff appearance in 24 years, was named the Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America. It was the first year the BBWAA handed out that award.
La Russa received 17 of a possible 28 votes to take the honor. He beat out Baltimore’s Joe Altobelli, who picked up seven first-place votes. La Russa would also take Manager of the Year honors from The Sporting News and the Associated Press.
The White Sox named Jeff Torborg as the team’s new manager. The former major league catcher, and Cleveland manager, would go on to gain notable success with the White Sox.
His “team and family” philosophy took hold, and a young group of players stunned the baseball world by winning 94 games in 1990. Torborg was named Manager of the Year that season. He followed that up by winning 87 games in 1991 before being forced out by White Sox GM Ron Schueler, who wanted to hire his own man.
Torborg, by the way, is the only man in baseball history to have caught a perfect game from Sandy Koufax and a no-hitter from Nolan Ryan, as he played for the Dodgers and Angels from 1964-73. Torborg also caught a third no-hitter, courtesy of L.A.’s Bill Singer.
Former White Sox All-Star shortstop Ozzie Guillén was named the team’s manager, replacing Jerry Manuel. Guillén was granted an interview late, intended as a courtesy from Ken Williams, as Guillén was busy coaching third base for the World Champion Florida Marlins; in fact, Williams had decided on Cito Gaston as his hire — at least until sitting down with Ozzie.
The “Wizard of Oz” immediately set about changing the fortunes of the franchise.
His “Ozzie-Ball” philosophy of pitching, smart/aggressive base-running, defense and doing the little things instead of just waiting for the home run would help lead to a World Series title in 2005, the season he would be named Manager of the Year.
He’d return to the playoffs with the club in 2008.
Before being allowed to leave in late September 2011, Guillén appeared to be headed for a very long career on the South Side, but his relationship changed with GM Ken Williams, and after Guillén forced owner Jerry Reinsdorf to essentially choose between his two “kids,” a parting of the ways was best for all concerned.
Though the season was just 60 games due to the pandemic, the Glove was still made of Gold: Luis Robert Jr. was named the AL’s Gold Glove winner in center field.
First baseman Evan White joined Robert as Gold Glove winners who had never played a single MLB game before 2020.
Royals coach Pedro Grifol was hired as manager to replace Tony La Russa, who officially retired in October due to health concerns.
Grifol played college baseball at Florida State and got as close to the majors as Triple-A, spent 10 years in the Royals organization and before that had a lengthy stay in the Mariners ranks. His hiring as an “outsider,” someone who had no connection to either Jerry Reinsdorf or the White Sox organization, marked the first time that had happened in the managerial search since Jerry Manuel got the position before the start of the 1998 season.
Through his first season, 2023, Grifol’s 61-101 record places him as the worst skipper in White Sox history among those who lasted at least one full season.