La Russa: Reinsdorf 'must have told' Williams, Hahn about my DUI arrest

When Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn learned of Tony La Russa's DUI charge remains unclear.
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By 670 The Score

(670 The Score) Before being hired as the White Sox's new manager in late October, Tony La Russa informed team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in the interview process of his arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence in the Phoenix area in February 2020.

When exactly other high-ranking officials in the organization beyond Reinsdorf learned of La Russa's arrest remains unclear. Reinsdorf kept his knowledge of La Russa's arrest private from those within the White Sox organization, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Wednesday without specifying further timeline details.

That raised the question of whether executive vice president Kenny Williams and general manager Rick Hahn knew about the incident before La Russa was hired. The arrest didn't become public knowledge until ESPN first reported it on Nov. 9, 11 days days after La Russa was introduced.

On Wednesday, Hahn declined comment when asked whether he was aware of La Russa's arrest before the hiring, deferring to the first day of spring training for the White Sox as the topic he would prefer to discuss.

La Russa was a little more expansive, saying he told Williams and Hahn about the incident "once they found out."

"I'm sure Jerry must have told Rick and Kenny," La Russa said Wednesday. "I let them know. It was back in February. He and they decided to stay with me."

The 76-year-old La Russa pled guilty in December to a reduced charge of misdemeanor reckless driving in a Maricopa County court. He was fined and ordered to serve 20 hours of community service and one day of home detention.

The White Sox issued a statement following the plea deal, offering an understanding to fan "anger" and adding that La Russa "expressed to us his remorse" about the situation.

"We understand that people make mistakes and exercise poor judgment in life," the White Sox said in their statement. "In this case, Tony is fortunate his decisions that night did not injure himself or anyone else. We also believe people deserve the opportunity, at all points in their lives, to improve. Tony knows there is no safety net below him. There cannot be a third strike."

Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014, La Russa had retired from managing in 2011 after 32 years in that position -- including 16 with the Cardinals from 1996-2011. He began as a manager with the White Sox from 1979-'86 before being fired by the team. Reinsdorf once referred to that decision as one of the greatest regrets of his career.

La Russa's hiring this offseason came as a surprise given he had been out of baseball for nine years before Reinsdorf brought him as a candidate to Williams and Hahn. La Russa said he understands the White Sox are giving him a chance and that he would be honest about his arrest.

"The message is straightforward, and that is if you have a drink, you don't drive," La Russa said. "You make that mistake, you own up to it and you face the consequences.

"I want to show that they can trust me. I want to have a goal of making them respect me because I can help them. And I'll show that I care for them."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.