12 Jan REMEMBERING DODGERS ICON TOMMY LASORDA, DEAD AT 93
Name: Thomas Charles Lasorda
Born: September 22, 1927 in Norristown, Pennsylvania
Died: January 7, 2021 (aged 93) in Fullerton, California
MLB debut: August 5, 1954, for the Brooklyn Dodgers
Managerial record: 1,599–1,439
Managed the Los Angeles Dodgers: 1976–1996
Career highlights and awards: 2x World Series champion
(1981, 1988) & 2x NL Manager of the Year (1983, 1988)
Inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame: 1997
Tommy Lasorda, the upbeat, former Los Angeles Dodgers manager who enthusiastically embraced Hollywood celebrities during his Hall of Fame baseball career died last Thursday night of a heart ailment. Tommy had a lifelong love affair with the Dodgers, an organization that infatuated and employed him for most of his long life. He was a fan as a youngster, a pitcher in the mid-1950s for the Brooklyn Dodgers, a scout in the 1960s, a major- league manager for two decades, and in his later years an ambassador and administrator for the team. Thomas Charles Lasorda was born Sept. 22, 1927 in Norristown, Pa. He got his start in pro-baseball at the age of 18 as a southpaw pitcher when he signed with the Phillies in 1945, then served two years in the military. In 1948, Lasorda made a record- making return to the baseball scene with the Schenectady Blue Jays as he authored a 25-strikeout performance. In 1949, the Dodgers drafted him from the Phillies, and he made a new home pitching for the Greenville Spinners and the Montreal Royals. During his time with the Royals, Lasorda led his team to four minor league championships. Lasorda made his major league debut on Aug. 5, 1954 with the Dodgers. He played for the Dodgers for two seasons before being traded to the Kansas City Athletics, where he pitched for one season. Lasorda made eight appearances for Brooklyn in 1954 and 1955, then was sent to the minors in June 1955, when the Dodgers brought up an 18-year-old lefty named Sandy Koufax. After the 1960 season, Lasorda ended his playing career and became a scout for the Dodgers until 1965. He managed in the minor leagues from 1966-72, and in 1973 made his way back to the big leagues as a third base coach for the Dodgers under another future Hall of Fame manager: Walter Alston. Alston retired in 1976 after 23 years with the Dodgers, and Lasorda took the reins. By 1978, he had led the Dodgers to two straight National League championships, and became the first NL manager to win pennants in their first two seasons. After losing to the Yankees in both the 1977 and 1978 World Series, the Dodgers went on to win the World Series over the Yankees in 1981. They defeated the A’s in 1988 to give Lasorda his second World Series title. Tommy was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997 in his first year of eligibility and, at the time of his death, was the Hall’s oldest living member.
QUOTES ABOUT TOMMY LASORDA
Mike Piazza: It’s hard to find the right words to say about a man who changed my life and my family’s life forever. A man with a larger than life personality, whose toughness, wit and tenacity rivals anyone I’ve ever met. Simply put, there is no one like Tommy Lasorda.
Vin Scully, Hall of Fame broadcaster: “There are two things about Tommy I will always remember. The first is his boundless enthusiasm. Tommy would get up in the morning full of beans and maintain that as long as he was with anybody else. The other was his determination. He was a fellow with limited ability and he pushed himself to be a very good Triple-A pitcher. He never quite had that something extra that makes a Major Leaguer, but it wasn’t because he didn’t try. Those are some of the things: his competitive spirit, his determination, and above all, this boundless energy and self-belief. His heart was bigger than his talent and there were no foul lines for his enthusiasm.”
Bobby Valentine, former MLB manager and Dodgers player (1969–72): “Tommy was like my father. I don’t know if it’s because I was the No. 1 choice or I was Italian or I was a big mouth and he was a big mouth, but whatever it was we really hit it off. I loved him. He loved me. To this day, 52 years later, until last night when I got the call at 3 in the morning, he’s been as close to me as anyone in my life.”