Like most non-Dodgers fans, I was hard wired to detest Tommy Lasorda growing up–specifically because his Dodgers defeated the ’88 Oakland ball-club for the World Series title, a team that was the (still) adored childhood entry point for my current baseball obsession. Tommy and his Dodgers introduced me to the heartbreak that only baseball could bring and in turn dulls your hardball spirit each year with consecutive disappointment– a vital learning lesson on this mortal coil that you must shake off the dark moments, realize pain is a part of life and proceed with an open mind and an open heart while you deal with it and get on with it.
Of course, as I got older I had learned to appreciate the larger than life paisan as a great ambassador with a wicked tongue and a great baseball mind. Often interesting was how he crafted the masterful friction between his foul-mouthed, devil-may-care, volatile attitude and the tenderness (although Dave Kingman and Kurt Bevacqua may disagree) he offered his players and adoring fans. We came to love this Italian boy weaned from a hard-scrabbled existence and a distant and foreign era in hardball history, a time when sports figures weren’t concerned with the avatar of virtuousness so much as when they could sneak in a beer or three.
In the Summer of 2014 I was attending Dodgers games quite often as I lived fairly close to Dodger Stadium. One day my girlfriend’s brother–who had on a lark brought binoculars–pointed out that Lasorda was in his typical seat behind home plate dozing off. We checked on him every inning or so out of humorous curiosity and, sure enough, Tommy was still in slumber with nary a stir even with a rise in excitement from the crowd. From then on when we attended a game we would bet a hotdog or a beer on what inning Lasorda would decide to visit slumber land with the smart bet being most often than not the 5th.
Lasorda was cool there for a while. There was something about how deeply he blew the blue smoke about the Dodgers and how he really was an excellent ambassador for the sport. He’s got a few scars, too – his language went toxic and he ruined relationships because he couldn’t appreciate lifestyle differences (his own son, for example). My initial reaction is positive probably because my first reaction to him was always positive. He obviously fills a big section of baseball history, which will be missed.
I forgot about that. It’s a damn shame and this blog definitely shames homophobia in any shape or form.
Great read, Tommy Lasorda was 1 of a kind. He grew up nearby in Norristown PA (right outside of Philly), and was loved by many. It sure has been a rough year with so many of baseball’s legends passing away. Being a guy who has lived my entire life on the East Coast, not too many people were fans of ANYTHING LA…..but Tommy was the exception. (my 94 yr old grandfather STILL hasn’t forgiven the Dodgers for leaving Brooklyn.) R.I.P. Tommy!
Thanks for the comment Dino. Good stuff.
Definitely not the typical Tommy Lasorda story. 🙂
I need to write these damn things sober. 🤣
Great post. As a Dodger fan I didn’t agree with some of his managerial decisions…like using Fernando’s left arm like the town pump but he could motivate…no question about that. What he did with the 2000 Olympic team was special.
But that’s when men were men and they could go 200 innings a year without crying unlike today’s sissies. 😂
lol…. I will miss Tommy. Him and Scully were the Dodgers…they were the one constant.
My lasting image of Lasorda is of him jumping his fattened frame like a giddy child after Gibson’s famed pinch-hit home run. I liked him because he made me laugh. Because he was overweight and because he was prone to napping in the dugout. Things we’ll never see again in baseball.
I’m running that scene through my head and I wasn’t very happy about it in real time but the passage of time makes it a bit more digestible. Thanks for stopping by Corky.
The off season is a time for all of us who don’t like the Dodgers to acknowledge that there are some pretty good people associated with the franchise.
As always, great write up Gary. I’ve had a similar experience with the Cardinals as you’ve had with the Dodgers, appreciating some of their legends despite them being a Brewers rival. Yadier Molina immediately comes to mind. Lasorda is well loved here in Montreal, with old timers anyway, for his time spent as a pitcher with the Montreal Royals.
You probably know this, but for the rest of the group, Lasorda was the one the Dodgers cut in 1955
in order to make room for Koufax…
I didn’t know that! Very cool and obscure baseball trivia. Thanks for sharing.