The Legend of LA
Lasorda, painted by Everett Raymond Kinstler, on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.
“If I can get them to play for the name on the front of their shirt and not the one on the back of their shirt then I am doing my job”
When you think of Dodger baseball, you think of two names: Vin Scully and Tommy Lasorda. The world of sports woke up to news that was truly a loss. Tommy Lasorda was a legendary manager, Hall of Famer, a man, a personality, and he is arguably the most recognizable name in the game. He loved baseball and wore his passion on his sleeve. He retired in 1996 due to health issues after managing the Dodgers for 20 years. He managed 3040 games with LA as the skipper, prior to that being in the farm system for the Dodgers. As manager he won 1,599 games including a world series win in 1981 after the player strike, beating the NY Yankees, and then again in 1988 beating the Oakland A’s, who had young Bash brothers as they were known as Mark Maguire and Jose Canseco. That series is known for the walk off homerun in a game with Kirk Gibson off the best closer in the season Dennis Eckersley.
Lasorda will be remembered for his passion for the game. When he retired in 1996, Lasorda was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1997 by the veterans committee. Lasorda may have retired, but he never gave up his passion for baseball. Who could when your entire adult life was in baseball. 71 years he spent with the Dodgers organization as a player, coach, manager and in the front office. Tommy Lasorda served as the interim GM for the dodgers when Fred Claire resigned in 1998. Lasorda received the Branch Rickey Award in 2006, which is given to the Major League personality who best demonstrates exemplary community service. In 2009, Lasorda was honored at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC when Everett Raymond Kinstler painted two portraits of Lasorda.
Lasorda even came out of retirement to manage and lead the USA men’s baseball team to the Gold Medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, upsetting the favorites Cuba in the gold medal game. Lasorda was arguably the best at motivating his players, which was on full display during the Olympics. Lasorda had an impact on anyone he met or interacted with, and you could see his love for America’s Favorite Pastime. He had an impact on other LA icons, like Magic Johnson, who was part of the Guggenheim Baseball Management that bought the Dodgers in 2012. Magic sat next to Lasorda at every Dodger game.
Other players, teams, friends, analysts and associates of Lasorda had expressed their feelings for the loss of Lasorda on social media. Lasorda was Los Angeles, he was the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he was baseball. The most famous thing about Lasorda was his love for the dodgers, and nobody could tell it better then Lasorda himself, in 1996 at a ceremony held at Dodgers Stadium for Lasorda, he said:
Tomas Charles Lasorda was 93 when he passed away after suffering a heart attack on Thursday, January 7th, 2021