As a player, La Russa made his major league debut in 1963 and spent parts of five major league seasons with the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics, Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs. After a shoulder injury during the 1964–65 off-season, he played much of the remainder of his professor in the minor leagues until retiring in 1977. Following his playing career, he earned a Juris Doctor degree from Florida State University.
La Russa was named manager of the White Sox in the middle of the 1979 season and guided the White Sox to an American League West division title four seasons later.
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