LOS ANGELES — Tommy Lasorda, the Hall of Fame manager who led the Los Angeles Dodgers to two World Series titles and later became a 71-year-old ambassador for the sport he loved, has died. He was 93 years old.
The Dodgers announced Friday that he was suffering from heart failure at his home in Fullerton, Calif. Attempts at resuscitation were made on the way to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before 11pm. Thursday.
Lasorda had heart problems, including a 1996 heart attack that ended her management career and another heart attack in 2012 that required a pacemaker.
He didn’t come home until Tuesday, since the 8th. November was hospitalized with heart problems.
– Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) January 8, 2021
Lasorda played in game six of the Dodgers game on the 27th. October in Texas against the Tampa Bay Rays, giving the team its first World Series title since 1988.
It’s fitting that in recent months he has seen his beloved Dodgers win the World Series for the first time since his 1988 team, Commissioner Rob Manfred said.
Lasorda has been a special advisor to owner and team president Mark Walter for the past 14 years and has often attended games while sitting in Walter’s locker room.
He was a great ambassador for the team and baseball, a mentor to the players and coaches, always had time for autographs and stories for his many fans and was a good friend, Walter said. He will be sorely missed.
Lasorda has worked as a player, scout, manager and front office manager with the Dodgers, who have their roots in Brooklyn.
He set a record of 1,599 to 1,439, won the world championship in 1981 and 1988, four National League pennants and eight division titles while leading the Dodgers from 1977 to 1996.
He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager in 1997. He led the United States to a gold medal in baseball at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Lasorda is the franchise’s longest serving active employee since broadcaster Vin Scully retired in 2016 after 67 years of service. When he was represented at the games in recent years, he received a standing ovation.
There are two things about Tommy that I will always remember, Scully said. The first is his boundless enthusiasm. Tommy would wake up in the morning full of beans and ask as long as he was with someone else. The other is his determination. He was a man of limited ability, and he tried to be a very good Triple-A pitcher. He never had anything that made him a great villain again, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Lasorda often proclaimed: I bled the Dodgers blue, and he held a bronze plaque on the table that said The Dodger Stadium was his address, but all football fields were his home.
As a pitcher, Lasorda had a modest major league career, going 0-4 with a 6.48 ERA and 13 retirements from 1954 to 1956.
Error! The file name is not specified. Tommy Lasorda led the Dodgers for 20 years and led the team to two world championship titles. George Rose/Getty Images
Born Thomas Charles Lasorda on the 22nd. September 1927 in Norristown, Pennsylvania, his professional career began when he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1945. He missed the 1946 and 47 seasons while serving in the Army.
Lasorda came back in 1948 and once struck out 25 times in a 15-set match. He struck out 15 and 13 in his next two starts, drawing the attention of the Dodgers, who had snatched him from the Phillies. He played in Panama and Cuba before being released on the 5th. In August 1954, he made his major league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Although he did not participate in the 1955 World Series, he won a ring with the team.
Lasorda played two seasons for the Dodgers before Kansas City Athletics purchased her contract. He was traded to the Yankees in 1956 and sent to the Triple-A Denver Bears in 1957 before being traded to the Dodgers. During her time with the Bears, Lasorda was influenced by manager Ralph Houck, who became her role model.
Ralph taught me that if you treat players like people, they will play like Superman, Lasorda said in his 2009 biography I Live For This : The last true believer in baseball.
He taught me that a pat on the back can be just as important as a kick in the pants.
Lasorda stayed with the Dodgers as a scout after his release in 1960. This was the beginning of a steady rise in the Dodger system, culminating in his promotion to the major leagues in 1973 under Walter Alston, the longtime Hall of Fame manager.
Lasorda spent four seasons as third-base coach and is considered the successor to Alston, who retired in September 1976.
Lasorda takes over, and her gregarious personality is in stark contrast to that of her reserved predecessor. Lasorda was known for his enthusiasm and candid opinions about the players. After the Dodgers won, he would jump and wave his arms in the air and kiss the players in the dugout after a home run or other good shots.
In Los Angeles, Lasorda found many players he coached in the lower ranks, including Steve Garvey, Ron C, Davey Lopez, Bill Russell, Bobby Valentine and Bill Buckner.
Words cannot express how I feel. A 52-year-old friend and mentor is gone. Tommy, no one will ever fill the void you left behind. Thanks for everything. R.I.P.
– Bobby Valentine (@BobbyValentine) January 8, 2021
Although Lasorda was beloved in public, behind the scenes he was known to rebuke journalists, rendering many of his quotes useless.
Some of his most memorable diatribes can be seen online, including a July 1982 tirade with Kurt Bevacqua of the San Diego Padres, who called Lasorda a little fat Italian after Dodgers’ pitcher Tom Niedenfuehr was fined $500 for punishing Bevacqua’s teammate, Joe Lefevre.
Lasorda refuses Niedenfuer’s order to hit Lefebvre with a series of F-bombs.
If I ever did, Lasorda said loudly, I certainly wouldn’t let him pitch to a .130 hitter like Lefebvre or Bevacqua who couldn’t get into the water if he fell off the boat.
In 1978, Dave Kingman of the Chicago Cubs hit three home runs and scored eight runs in a 10-7 overtime victory over the Dodgers. A reporter asked Lasorda what he thought of Kingman’s performance.
I think it’s… Horses. Take advantage of that, Mr. Lasorda said. He hit us with three home runs. How can you ask me such a question?
Lasorda was known for her friendship with Frank Sinatra and other Hollywood stars. Sinatra sang the national anthem on the opening day of the 1977 season to celebrate Lasorda’s debut as manager. The wooden walls of Lasorda’s office were filled with signed black-and-white photos of her famous friends, jars of red pasta sauce framed and served in large aluminum trays after games.
Lasorda’s hunger for victory and food was equally insatiable. He explained that his weight has steadily increased over his years as a manager: When we won the games, I ate to celebrate. And when we lost games, I ate to forget.
He played the role of a launcher in a popular weight loss product.
Lasorda has mentored nine National Rookie of the Year recipients, including Fernando Valenzuela, Steve Sacks, Steve Howe, Mike Piazza, Eric Carros and Hideo Nomo.
You have to know who to tap on the shoulder, when to give them a pat on the shoulder, when to kick their butt and when to give them a pat on the back, said Mike Scioscia, former Dodgers receiver and major league manager. And Tommy had a knack for knowing what the players needed.
Lasorda won four All-Star games. He was third-base coach in the 2001 game when, in a comedic scene, he stepped back to avoid the broken barrel of Vladimir Guerrero’s bat.
Lasorda became interim general manager in 1998 after Fred Clare was sacked mid-season. He resigned after the season and was named Senior Vice President. After selling the team to Frank McCourt in 2004, Lasorda became special advisor to the president.
Lasorda suffered a heart attack while traveling to New York in 2012 to represent the Dodgers on the major league selection. He had a pacemaker implanted, which was replaced five years later.
He’s been mourning Joe’s wife for 70 years. The couple lived in the same modest Fullerton home for 68 years. They have a daughter, Laura, and a granddaughter, Emily. The couple’s son, Tom Jr. died of AIDS-related complications in 1991.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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