WOW This is sad to hear as like millions of others I grew up loving the Legendary Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. I lived in California for years, and loved to see his Dodgers play and at many know for lots of years he was the best thing the Dodgers had.. But after a short season the Dodgers won it all in 2020, and now as the new season is coming up we hope we hear of the horrible loss of Tommy who just died at the age of 93.
“When Walter Alston retired at the end of the 1976 season after 24 years as the manager of the Dodgers, the great Vin Scully interviewed Alston’s replacement. How much pressure, Scully asked, would the new manager be under, following a legend?” To which Tommy Lasorda said, “I’m not worried about the guy I am following. I’m worried about the guy that is going to have to follow me.”
It was vintage Lasorda, and as usual, he was right. Lasorda managed the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1977 to 1996 and compiled a winning percentage of .526, won four pennants, won the World Series in 1981 and 1988 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997. He used to say that he “bleeds Dodger blue,” and he meant it. He spent 71 years in the Dodgers organization as a player, a coach and then the most famous manager in club history.
“The funny thing is, Bill Veeck was going to move his team from St. Louis to Baltimore in 1953 for $5 million, and he was going to take me with him,” Lasorda said. “I was going to pitch for Baltimore, but the Yankees wouldn’t give their approval for the move, so they didn’t move until the next year. The next year, I was with the Dodgers. But if that move had been made the previous year, my whole life would have [been] much, much different.”
Lasorda brought Hollywood to the Dodgers. He loved the celebrity lifestyle; he loved that he became friends with movie stars, singers and other glitterati, greats such as Frank Sinatra. But mostly, he loved baseball and he loved the Dodgers. During spring training 2013 in Glendale, Arizona, Lasorda, then 85, came to the Dodgers’ camp virtually every day to help the organization in any way he could, and to be Tommy Lasorda.
He loved being Tommy Lasorda.
“Most people my age,” he said, “are dead or in a nursing home. I make speeches all over the country. But it’s not work. When you love what you’re doing, it never feels like work.”
No one loved baseball more than Lasorda. Jo, his wife of more than 60 years, once told him that he loved baseball more than he loved her, and he agreed, then playfully added, “But I love you more than I love football or basketball.”
Lasorda loved the game, and he loved to manage. And he was very good at it, in part because of the positive reinforcement he consistently gave his players.
“I made guys believe; I made them believe they could win,” he said in the course of a conversation that spring of 2013. “I did it by motivating them. I was asked all the time, ‘You mean baseball players that make $5 million, $8 million, $10 million a year need to be motivated?’ They do. That’s what I did.”
“Cardinal O’Connor, who performed the memorial mass for my mother, asked me once to talk about motivation,” Lasorda continued. “The day I knew I could motivate players was in Spokane in the Pacific Coast League. We were playing in Tucson. We had a little left-hander on the mound named Bobby O’Brien. He had two outs, bases loaded, late in the game. I went to the mound to talk to him. I said, ‘Bobby, I want you to look up at the Big Dodger in the sky. I want you to look at this as maybe the last hitter you will ever face in your life. If you give up a hit, you will die. You will face the Lord knowing that you failed, and you died. But if you get this guy out, you can face the Lord knowing that you got this guy out. So what do you want to do, get this guy out, or die?’ He said, ‘I want to get this guy out!’
“So I left the mound, and he gave up a two-run single. I went back to the mound and said, ‘Bobby, what happened?’ He said, ‘I was so afraid of dying, I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing.’ That’s when I knew. I actually convinced him that he might die if he didn’t get this guy out. Now that’s motivation!”
Like Bobby O’Brien, Lasorda was a little left-hander during his playing days.
“My stuff wasn’t very good,” he said, “but I loved to compete.” He pitched 58 innings in his major league career for the Dodgers and A’s, going 0-4 with a 6.52 ERA. “I thought I might have a chance to pitch for the Dodgers when Walter [Alston] got the job [in 1955],” Lasorda said. “In 1956, I was 14-5 in the minor leagues. I won more games than [Carl] Erskine. I won more games than [Ed] Roebuck. I got called up in June of 1956. I sat on the bench the rest of the year. I never got in a game.”
During that time, according to Lasorda, one of his teammates, Don Zimmer, overheard a conversation between Dodgers pitching coach Ted Lyons and Alston in which Lyons told the manager that Lasorda should get in a game.
“But,” Lasorda said 57 years later, “Walter said to Ted, ‘We need him more in the dugout. He adds great life to the dugout.’ I went to Walter and said, ‘What am I, a cheerleader? I want to pitch. Put me in the game. I can do this.’ I never really got the chance. … Ah, but none of that matters now.”
What matters is that Lasorda was a highly successful manager for the team he loved the most. “Let me show you something,” Lasorda once said, and he took a writer into the office of then-Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. On the wall was a picture of every Dodgers manager in the club’s glorious history. “Look,” he said, “most of these guys only lasted a couple of years. A few went a little longer. It’s amazing to me. Here are all of them, and so few of them managed the Dodgers for very long.”
He didn’t need to complete the thought. Only Alston managed the team longer than Lasorda’s 21-year tenure. And the guy who replaced Lasorda? That was Bill Russell. He lasted three years. Lasorda was right back in 1976. It wasn’t easy having to follow him.
But finally, in 2020, 32 years after the Dodgers last won the World Series, they won again, beating the Rays in six games. Tommy Lasorda, the last manager to win a World Series for the Dodgers, was there, in a private suite at Globe Life Field, surrounded by friends and family. He had been flown in for the clinching Game 6.
“He was cognizant, he knew exactly what was going on when the last out was made,” said Bobby Valentine, a former Dodger, a former manager and a dear friend of Lasorda’s. “So when the final out was made, we all stood up in the suite and yelled, with Tommy, ‘Oh, yeah!’ Because that’s what Tommy always said after a big win, ‘Oh, yeah!’ Then we got a picture taken with him after the Dodgers had won. Of all the records that Tommy holds, he holds the record for most pictures taken with him of anyone in the world. I’d say it’s 500,000. It’s probably much more. Moms who had their son’s picture taken with him in the grocery story. He was always accessible. That was Tommy.”
Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda has died at the age of 93, the team announced. He suffered a sudden cardiopulmonary arrest at his home Thursday night and was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later. Lasorda was hospitalized on Nov. 8 with heart issues and didn’t return home until Tuesday. He managed the Dodgers from 1976 to 1996, winning two World Series titles, four National League pennants and eight division crowns. He was named NL Manager of the Year twice and won 1,599 career games.
Lasorda was born on Sept. 22, 1927, and he grew up in the blue-collar city of Norristown, Pennsylvania, located just outside of Philadelphia. In 1945, at the age of 18, the left-handed pitcher got his big break by signing with the hometown Phillies organization. “I did not have a lot of ability, but I’ll guarantee you one thing, when I stood on that hill of thrills, I didn’t believe that there was any man alive who could hit me,” Lasorda said in 1997. “And if they did hit me, which they did, I thought it was an accident.”
Lasorda’s baseball career was interrupted in 1946 and 1947 because of military service with the U.S. Army. Lasorda returned in 1948 and didn’t miss a beat; on May 31 that year, he struck out 25 batters in Schenectady’s 15-inning win over Amsterdam and singled in the deciding run. After that season, Lasorda was selected by the Brooklyn Dodgers in the minor league draft, beginning a longtime relationship with the franchise.
Lasorda reached the majors in 1954 and played with the Dodgers in 1954 and 1955. He also pitched for the Kansas City Athletics in 1956, but he never played in the big leagues again after that season. He retired from pitching in 1960. With his playing career finished, Lasorda remained with the Dodgers. He was a scout for the team until becoming a minor league manager from 1965 to 1972. Seventy-five players Lasorda managed in the minors went on to play in the big leagues.
In 1973, Lasorda was the third-base coach for the Dodgers under Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston. When Alston retired in 1976, Lasorda was named his replacement.
Lasorda quickly found success in Los Angeles. In 1977 and 1978, he led the Dodgers to the National League pennant but lost to the Yankees in the World Series both seasons. In 1981, Lasorda finally got his first World Series title as the Dodgers defeated the Yankees in six games. The Dodgers also won the World Series in 1988 under Lasorda. He was in attendance for the team’s Game 6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in October that sealed the Dodgers’ first World Series championship since Lasorda’s 1988 team.
After 20 seasons, Lasorda retired as Dodgers manager in 1996 because of health concerns. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997 by the veterans committee, but Lasorda remained active in the sport. He served various roles with the Dodgers and he was manager of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 over favored Cuba. Lasorda was also the official ambassador of the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009.
“His passion, success, charisma and sense of humor turned him into an international celebrity, a stature that he used to grow our sport,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement Friday. “Tommy welcomed Dodger players from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere — making baseball a stronger, more diverse and better game.”
Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, who was the voice of the Dodgers for 67 years, fondly remembered Lasorda’s energy and effort.
“There are two things about Tommy I will always remember,” Scully said in a statement. “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.”
A distant relative of Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza, and the godfather to Piazza’s brother Tommy, Lasorda was instrumental in influencing the Dodgers to select Piazza in the 62nd round in the 1988 draft. Piazza went on to become a 12-time All-Star with a .308 career batting average, one of nine NL Rookies of the Year to play for the Dodgers under Lasorda. Piazza finished with 427 home runs, including a record 396 as a catcher.
In 2009, Lasorda had his portrait hung in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery. Lasorda’s No. 2 was retired by the Dodgers in 1997 and the main street that leads to the entrance of the Dodgers complex in Vero Beach, Florida, was renamed Tommy Lasorda Lane that year.
“Fifty years from now, we’re still going to know Tommy Lasorda as a great ambassador to baseball,” said former Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser, who spent 14 of his 18 seasons playing under Lasorda. “And I think that’s going to be the No. 1 thing on his résumé.”
This is heart breaking for us all who grew up loving to watch his goofy antics, and lovable grandpa like personality. My uncle was, and still is a big LA Dodgers fan, and we used to watch a lot of their games together when I was a kid… My dad loved them also and liked to watch them just not when they had bad seasons. But we all agreed on one thing. We all loved Tommy! When he retired it was sad to see him leave the game but we’re all here for a short time. He got to stay for 93 glorious years, and I thank him for the great memories, and send my condolances to his family, friends, and the entire LA Dodgers franchise.