Arrest report: Sox manager La Russa was 'argumentative' while being taken into custody
One day before he was surprisingly announced last month as the new manager of the White Sox, Tony La Russa was charged with DUI in Arizona, per court records.
The 76-year-old member of the Hall of Fame, who was previously arrested for drunken driving in 2007, was charged with two offenses Oct. 28. Per Maricopa County Justice Courts, La Russa's alleged violations included driving under the influence and having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
The charges stem from an incident Feb. 24. According to charging documents obtained by ESPN, La Russa is alleged to have run his car into a curb alongside a Phoenix-area road shortly before midnight. A peace officer discovered the three-time World Series winner standing outside the vehicle and reportedly emitting a "light odor of alcoholic beverage." La Russa was given a field sobriety test and, per ESPN, was described as "argumentative" while being taken into custody.
According to the arrest report, La Russa asked the officer, "Do you see my ring?" Asked by the officer what he was talking about, La Russa replied, "I'm a Hall of Famer baseball person." Then, while being placed into the back seat of the police car, La Russa said: "I'm legit. I'm a Hall of Famer, brother. You're trying to embarrass me."
The court filing reportedly stated La Russa refused to submit to tests of his alcohol level, prompting the officer to obtain a search warrant for two vials of blood. A Maricopa County official told ESPN the delay in charging La Russa occurred because the incident was initially filed in an incorrect jurisdiction.
A spokesman for the White Sox confirmed to USA Today that the team was aware of the incident but said he could not comment further because it was an "active case." A person described as a high-ranking White Sox official told USA Today that La Russa was not likely to face discipline from the club.
Before La Russa won one World Series title with the Oakland Athletics and two with the St. Louis Cardinals, his first big league managing job was with the White Sox from 1979 to 1986. Jerry Reinsdorf, the longtime owner of the White Sox, has been said to have regretted letting go of La Russa, who went on to win 2,728 games, third most in MLB history.
"As everyone in baseball is well aware, I have always respected Tony and am proud to have maintained a great friendship with him over the decades in the game," Reinsdorf said in a statement issued to mark the manager's return to the organization. "But his hiring is not based on friendship or on what happened years ago, but on the fact that we have the opportunity to have one of the greatest managers in the game's history in our dugout at a time when we believe our team is poised for great accomplishments."
La Russa last managed in 2011, and he retired after leading St. Louis that year to a championship. He walked away at the time with four manager of the year awards and went on to hold other positions in baseball, including as a consultant to the Los Angeles Angels at the time of his February episode.
In March 2007, while at spring training with the Cardinals, La Russa was arrested for DUI in Jupiter, Fla. He reportedly tested at a blood alcohol level of 0.093, above the legal threshold. "I accept full responsibility for my conduct, and assure everyone that I have learned a very valuable lesson and that this will never occur again," La Russa said in a statement released by his attorney, David Roth. La Russa did not appear in court to plead guilty.