Tommy Lasorda was a celebrity. He was also a leader.

Tommy Lasorda was a celebrity.  He was also a leader.

Tommy Lasorda was born on the first day of fall, the most important season in baseball. Years later, it was leaving a permanent autumn footprint, but on that day, in 1927, the Brooklyn Dodgers lost a double head. Lasorda, from Norristown, Pennsylvania, had grown into a fickle left-handed player for the team, but he would never win for them either.

Like Walter Alston, his predecessor as the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Lasorda only appeared briefly as a major player in the league. Alston was healthy in one fell swoop. Lasorda was unbeaten in a handful of its beginnings. Nevertheless, they managed to run the team in an unbroken streak from 1954 to 1996, having met in all six franchise tournaments before 2020.

“Their strength was that of the Dodgers: They knew the minor league system, they knew how players should become major players, they understood the importance of scouts and player development – they knew that from the ground up,” Fred Claire, the former general manager of Dodgers said Friday. Their personalities were different, but their foundations were almost identical. “

Even Lasorda Death at home on Thursday, 93, was the pre-eminent member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. If there really was a blue Dodger Heaven, as he always claimed, he could look out into the world and see his old team above him. He was watching from the stadium stand, in Arlington, Texas, when the Dodgers won the World Series last October.

“I think it needs to be there, you know?” Bobby Valentine said on Friday. “Just like he needed to come home from the hospital to be with his wife, so she can say he’s fine.”

Valentine, longtime major league manager, was with Lasorda at Globe Life Field. A mutual friend, Warren Lichtenstein, had arranged for Lazorda to take a private jet to Texas, with a doctor at his side at all times.

“He didn’t stand – we put him on wheels, and he sat the whole time – but with one or maybe two out in the final game, he stood up, watched the match standing up, and when they won he threw both hands over his head and said,“ Oh yeah! ”Valentine said. Yes, “to anyone who has been around, this is what he was saying when he was running out of bunker after their win:” Oh yeah, we did it! “

Lasorda teams have won 1,630 matches in major tournaments, including post-season. He led the Dodgers to seven division titles, four World Championship matches and two championships, in 1981 and 1988. After retirement, he managed the US baseball team – mostly young cowboys – to the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

With Lasorda, games were only part of the story. A true celebrity, he was the friend of Frank Sinatra and Don Rickles he always knew Where do I find the camera. He can share wisdom as a pointed wizard in a children’s TV show (”Bunch baseball) Or a dirty lewd frolic in Who dared to ask For his opinion Competitor’s performance. John Lovitz He played it on “Saturday Night Live”.

Lasorda had a thing about amulets. In 1989, Judges have ordered Youppi out! – Playful orange dot in the Montreal Expos shirt – to roar over the Dodgers’ hideout. A year ago, it is Phillie Phanatic wrestles to the grass In Veterans Stadium and hit him with a stuffed Dodgers doll.

Lasorda and Vanich, played by Dave Raymond, took part in a goodwill trip in Major League Baseball to Japan in 1979. The mascot was mocking the manager, whose alleged anger was laughing at the fans. But Lasorda picked it up that day in Philadelphia, and the highlight was ever born.

On Friday, Raymond said, “All the other times I’ve been interacting with him, he was really doing it with a tongue on his cheek, but I knew he was crazy because he was using my name and putting together some bad words.” “You were so confused – – I think he’s really angry! – And when my head almost came out, I am He was really angry. So for the next few rounds, I got the doll over Velez’s stash and was feeding her pizza. At this point, I’m like, “Okay, I started it.”

Years later, when LaSorda discovers Raymond dressed in the lobby of a hotel at Winter Baseball Meetings, he entertained his friends by summarizing their quarrels. It was all part of the show with Lasorda, who was always asking Raymond about his father, Tubby, a longtime University of Delaware soccer coach.

Raymond said, “The biggest grief – outside of his family, close friends and the Dodger family – is baseball, because Tommy was the best ambassador.” “We don’t have people like Tommy Lasorda, Earl Weaver or Tag McGraw Or Jay Johnston anymore. These types of people seem to have gotten rid of. With travel sports and an emphasis on performance and analytics and all that, we’re missing out on some of the best parts of baseball, and some of the things we’d been sticking with as kids. There was the wonderful window frame that characters like Tommy gave to the game. “

Valentine – himself a character of color – agreed with this idea but emphasized Lasorda’s role as a visionary who had seen farther than the hills overlooking Dodger Stadium. He set up clinics all over the world, learned Spanish and championed players such as Fernando Valenzuela, one of the top baseball stars from Mexico, and Hideo Nomo, the first MLB All-Star from Japan.

For Valentine, Lasorda was a follower of Branch Ricky’s dynasty, Hall of Fame CEO of the Dodgers and other teams who brought Jackie Robinson into the big companies and mapped out a modern farm system.

“Tommy had a stick to do things differently,” Valentine said. “He was an old Italian with old Italian ways, but somehow, with his high school education, he knew the world was changing and baseball needed to change with it.”

Perhaps Lasorda’s most profound legacy is the way he changed the director’s role. While Alston can be distant and taciturn, Lasorda was a cheerful captain who was unabashedly cheering for his players, creating an environment in which young players thrived, and motivated them as much as possible.

The 1988 World Championships, against the majestic Oakland Athletics, was a masterpiece for Asorda. The Dodgers stole Game 1 over the enchanted Homer Kirk Gibson, and archer Orel Hershiser dominated A twice. But their other win, in Game 4, was all Lasorda, whose patchwork squad has fewer team-mates together compared to Oakland’s Jose Canseco who got it alone.

On the NBC pregame, Bob Costas praised the Dodgers’ show but invited the lineupOne of the weakest players ever in a world championship game.LaSorda, who was watching in the club, shook the walls with a series of grievances.

“Do you hear what Kostas said? He said you were the worst attacking team ever!Mickey Hatcher, the third super-hit, said referring to a recent sermon for Lasorda. “Oh, man, he was moving it. And of course when we were in the shelter, the players were screaming and Kostas didn’t know what was going on. But Tommy kept feeding everyone.”

Kostas finished the pre-match show from his place on the first plinth side of the turf, next to the visitors’ hideout. He stayed on the field for the national anthem, and had no idea Lasorda had seen his analysis, let alone used to rally the Dodgers.

Recently, Costas said, “I am standing next to Hirschser, who is standing at the end of the line with his hat over his heart during the chant.” “And he looked down from above his shoulder and got out from the corner of his mouth, and he said, ‘Hey, boy, Tommy has really pushed men to review what you’ve said.” And I’m amazed, like, “What the hell is he talking about?”

“Then they won, and Lasorda made a big deal after that on TV with Marv Albert. And the whole time he was winking in my face!”

The Dodgers ran on the bases with abandon that night, running over a passed ball, foul and twice ground. They clinched the title one match later, and when they finally got it back, he was their biggest fan there.

“What was about Tommy, more than anything, was his passion and love for the game,” Claire said. “That’s what drove him, which enabled him to play professional baseball in the beginning, and that’s what he was like when he was young, and that’s what he never lost.”

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