The 76-year-old La Russa, who won a World Series title with the Oakland Athletics and two more with the St. Louis Cardinals, rejoins the White Sox more than three decades after they fired him. He takes over for Rick Renteria after what the White Sox said was a mutual agreement to part ways.
"We are extremely excited about the future of this team," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday. "As we showed in 2020, this is a young, talented club that we expect to only grow better and better in the coming years.
"Adding in a Hall of Fame manager who is recognized as being one of the best in the history of the game, we are a step closer to our goal of bringing White Sox fans another championship."
La Russa takes over a White Sox team stacked with young stars and productive veterans that reached the playoffs for the first time since 2008 this past season. Despite the club's strong season, Renteria and the White Sox agreed to split after the team sputtered down the stretch and got knocked out in the wild-card round.
"It was very difficult to sit and think about what's going on downstairs. It's always more fun downstairs. My heart was always in the dugout," said La Russa, who has worked in the front office for multiple teams since 2014. "I think all managers would understand this, how rare it is to get an opportunity to manage a team that's this talented and this close to winning.
"... The last few days, as this has gotten closer, my internal response has been excitement. No regret. I'm fired up and ready to go."
La Russa joins Jack McKeon as the only managers in MLB history to take over a club at age 75 or older, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. McKeon was 80 when he became manager of the Marlins in 2011.
"While I have had other inquiries about managing since retiring, this opportunity with the White Sox brings together a number of important factors that make this the right time and the right place," La Russa said. "The on-field talent is amazing, and the front office, led by Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn, has done everything necessary to create an atmosphere of long-term success.
"All of those factors aligned to make this a tremendous opportunity, and I am excited to get going as soon as possible by building a coaching staff and getting to work."
La Russa, who began his managerial career with the White Sox during the 1979 campaign, is returning to the dugout for the first time since 2011, when he guided the Cardinals past the Texas Rangers in the World Series. He also won championships with Oakland in 1989 and St. Louis in 2006.
Across 33 seasons with the White Sox, A's and Cardinals, La Russa -- a four-time Manager of the Year -- has compiled a 2,728-2,365 record with six pennants. Only Hall of Famers Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763) have more total victories.
La Russa was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.