Controversy swirls after White Sox change longtime concession worker’s section name in favor of La Russa

Chicago News

CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox have removed an honor for a woman who became a fixture at the ballpark in favor of their controversial manager Tony La Russa.

The “Loretta’s Lounge” has been renamed “La Russa’s Lounge.”

Family feels upset over the decision and Sox fans have voiced their dismay on social media.

“It hurt how it happened. Just because we have family members that work there, so we’re around for them to at least give us a heads up, like hey this is happening, and like offer it to us,” great grandson Lou Soto said.

Loretta Michele worked in concessions for the White Sox for 66 years – starting in Old Comiskey Park back in the 1940s.

“She was a die hard White Sox fan,” Soto said.

Over the six decades and two ballparks, she became a festive fixture and apart of the ballpark experience.

“On her darkest day she’s make you laugh, that was just her spirit,” Soto said.

When Michele turned 85, during the team’s World Series run in 2005, the White Sox honored her by naming a seat area at the stadium “Loretta’s Lounge.”

“She loved the people there, she loved interacting with the fans and with the rest of the workers,” Soto said.

On her 93rd birthday, she celebrated with a White Sox cake.

““I don’t think we ever celebrated with anything else other than a White Sox cake,” Soto said.

When she died in 2014, Loretta’s legacy seemed as secure as a pop fly in the glove of Nellie Fox.

“For her to have her own area there, it’s something that we can always see, it mean the world to everybody and to her,” Soto said.

But this season, the Sox pulled down her sign and replaced Loretta’s Lounge with “La Russa’s Lounge.”

The White Sox released the following statement about the decision.

Prior to Tony La Russa becoming manager, a space that had been named after La Russa for many seasons was relocated to the current area on the 100 level during the 2020 season. 

Loretta Micele has always been a treasured member of the White Sox family and a plaque in her honor remains in the space to honor her memory despite the name change. As we say in the plaque, Loretta was a dedicated concession stand staff member known for her ‘service with a smile’ attitude.

The club is now working with the family to give them a replica of the sign. Family said they have no ill will toward La Russa.

“I don’t hold anything against him, we still love the team and love what they represent and it’s just for it to be named LaRussa, social media is just taking off with it – and we hope they keep it in the fun light that our grandmother would want to be remembered by,” Soto said.

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