- ESPN MLB insider
Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”
Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa flashed a ring at a police officer arresting him for driving under the influence and said “I’m a Hall of Famer baseball person” while being placed into the back of a cruiser, according to an incident report obtained by ESPN.
La Russa, 76, was charged in late October with DUI by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office after blood and breath tests taken the night of his February arrest showed his blood-alcohol concentration over the legal limit of .08.
The White Sox said they were aware of La Russa’s pending charges, which were filed one day before the team officially hired him Oct. 29. It is the second drunken-driving arrest for La Russa, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI in Florida in 2007.
While initial details of the arrest were provided in an affidavit from the arresting officer, the incident report by the Arizona Department of Public Safety fills in gaps and shows La Russa appearing incoherent, referring multiple times to his Hall of Fame credentials and expressing mistrust in blood-alcohol-level tests.
When the officer approached La Russa’s car, which was blocking the right-hand lane on State Route 143, La Russa said he had a flat tire. “I hit something once I got on the 43,” he said, according to the report.
La Russa said he was returning from a dinner with “friends with the California Angels baseball team.” (La Russa was a special adviser for the Los Angeles Angels before the White Sox hired him to manage after a nine-year absence from the dugout.) When the officer asked for identification, according to the report, La Russa continued instead to talk on the phone to a AAA representative. The officer repeated the command, and La Russa tossed cash and cards onto the passenger’s seat but did not furnish a driver’s license. The officer asked him to hang up his phone and provide the license.
While shuffling through his money and cards, La Russa twice passed over the license before finally handing it to the officer, according to the report.
The officer asked La Russa to exit the car for field sobriety tests. La Russa said he had undergone a hip replacement four weeks earlier and asked: “Why are we doing the tests?” The officer said there was an odor of alcohol emanating from La Russa. When the officer discussed administering a portable breath test, La Russa said: “I don’t trust it.”
According to the report, La Russa then asked: “What makes you think I don’t have control of my facilities?”
He agreed to take the breath test “if it gets me out of here,” according to the report. The test registered a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .090.
The officer placed La Russa under arrest for DUI. When read his Miranda rights, La Russa said: “I don’t know my rights because you told me once I blow into that thing we’d be done,” according to the report. The officer asked if La Russa had any drinks, and he replied that he had one glass of wine at dinner, the report said.
Before the arresting officer placed him in a vehicle, La Russa said: “Do you see my ring?” When asked what he meant, La Russa answered: “I’m a Hall of Famer baseball person.” He continued: “I’m legit. I’m a Hall of Famer, brother. You’re trying to embarrass me.”
Once at the highway patrol station near the incident, La Russa requested a phone call. At 1:07 a.m., around 90 minutes after the arrest, he asked to speak with a supervisor, according to the report. He declined to submit a blood sample to test his BAC, the report said.
“I will not comply with your tests,” La Russa said, according to the report. “I don’t trust it, brother.”
The officer received a warrant to draw La Russa’s blood, and the test measured La Russa’s BAC at .095.
When reached for comment on Monday night, La Russa told ESPN, “I have nothing to say,” and hung up the phone. A message left Tuesday for La Russa’s lawyer, Larry Kazan, was not returned.
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