Hall of Fame manager and Los Angeles Dodger icon Tommy Lasorda dies at 93
Tommy Lasorda, the charismatic former manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers who maintained a relationship with the franchise as a player, coach, manager and executive for 71 seasons, has died at the age of 93.
"I'll never want to take off this uniform,'' Lasorda told USA TODAY Sports in a 2014 interview. "I want to keep working for the Dodgers until the day I die. That's the truth."
And that's exactly what he did.
Lasorda suffered a sudden cardiopulmonary arrest at his home at 10:09 p.m. on Thursday. He was transported to the hospital with resuscitation in progress. He was pronounced dead at 10:57 p.m.
"In a franchise that has celebrated such great legends of the game, no one who wore the uniform embodied the Dodger spirit as much as Tommy Lasorda," Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten said in a statement. "A tireless spokesman for baseball, his dedication to the sport and the team he loved was unmatched. He was a champion who at critical moments seemingly willed his teams to victory. The Dodgers and their fans will miss him terribly. Tommy is quite simply irreplaceable and unforgettable."
Said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred in a statement: “Tommy Lasorda was one of the finest managers our game has ever known. He loved life as a Dodger. … His passion, success, charisma and sense of humor turned him into an international celebrity, a stature that he used to grow our sport."
Lasorda posted a career record of 1,599-1,439 (.526) as the Dodgers' manager from 1976 to 1996. During that span, his teams won eight division titles, four National League pennants and two World Series championships.
In 1997, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Although his major league career as a pitcher lasted just three seasons from 1954-56, Lasorda found his true calling as a manager. After leading his teams to four championships in the minor leagues (and one in the Dominican Winter League), Lasorda got the call to join Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston in Los Angeles in 1973 as the team's third-base coach.
When Alston retired at the tail end of the 1976 season, Lasorda took over and began his legendary 20-year run as Dodgers manager.
Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda (Photo: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)
Under Lasorda, the Dodgers were regular playoff contenders, which frequently put him in the media spotlight. His colorful personality — and occasionally colorful language — only helped to increase his popularity.
His greatest accomplishments as a manager were the World Series-winning seasons of 1981 — with star rookie pitcher Fernando Valenzuela leading the way over the New York Yankees — and 1988 — when an ailing Kirk Gibson hit a game-winning pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 against the Oakland A's.
However, Lasorda's notoriety extended far beyond the dugout and clubhouse.
He had several memorable (and hilarious) confrontations in Philadelphia with the Phillie Phanatic mascot.
31 years ago today, Tommy Lasorda had enough of the Phanatic’s shenanigans.https://t.co/JpmQhQV5Pppic.twitter.com/bm9v2jjtZD
He appeared as a regular character — The Dugout Wizard — on the syndicated kids' TV show, "The Baseball Bunch."
Indeed. The Old Dugout Wizard (aka Tommy Lasorda) knew what he was talking about…. pic.twitter.com/3k5XvCT6KX
He also was the voice of a canine baseball commentator in the movie "Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco."
“There are two things about Tommy I will always remember,” former Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully said. “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. … His heart was bigger than his talent and there were no foul lines for his enthusiasm."
In 1997, Lasorda was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in his first year of eligibility. That year, he also had his jersey number 2 retired by the Dodgers.
Four years after his retirement as a major league skipper, Lasorda returned to the dugout as the manager of the 2000 United States Olympic baseball team, leading them to the gold medal at the Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.
All the while, he never forgot his Dodger roots. After his retirement as manager, he served a number of different roles — from vice president and general manager to senior adviser and special ambassador.
Even as he began slowing down with age, Lasorda continued to be a regular presence around the team in spring training — and always in full uniform.
“My family, my partners and I were blessed to have spent a lot of time with Tommy,” said Dodgers owner and chairman Mark Walter said in a statement. “He was a great ambassador for the team and baseball, a mentor to players and coaches, he always had time for an autograph and a story for his many fans and he was a good friend. He will be dearly missed.”
Source: Read Full Article