Legendary Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda Passes Away at Age 93
Hall of Fame Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who in his lifetime, spent over 70 years with the organization and “became one of the most memorable personalities in baseball history,” died of a heart attack on the night of Thursday, January 7th, 2021.
“He was 93. Lasorda suffered a sudden cardiopulmonary arrest at his home at 10:09 p.m.,” the team said in a statement the following day. “He was transported to the hospital with resuscitation in progress. He was pronounced dead at 10:57p.m.”
Photo obtained from theguardian.om
Lasorda was the manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers for two decades, his career extending from 1976 to 1996. In that time, he accomplished incredible feats with the team, leading them to win two World Series championships - one in 1981 against the New York Yankees, and the second in 1988 against the Oakland Athletics. In those 20+ seasons, he also won 1,599 games, eight divisional titles, and four National League pennants, even leading nine players to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Among them included Steve Sax, Fernando Valenzeula, Rick Sutcliffe, Mike Piazza, and Eric Karros.
However, the MLB community not only remembers him for his achievements as manager, but also the raw, enthusiastic zeal that he displayed for the sport.
Shortstop and Third Baseman Alex Rodriguez tweeted on January 8th, 2021, “Nobody lived, breathed, and slept baseball more than Tommy Lasorda. He was more than just a World Series-winning manager for those great L.A. teams in the ‘80s. He BLED Dodger blue. He was a true gentleman, along with being a champion and Hall of Famer.”
“Tommy Lasorda was one of the finest managers our game has ever known,” said commissioner Rob Manfred. “His passion, success, charisma and sense of humor turned him into an international celebrity, a stature that he used to grow our sport. Tommy welcomed Dodger players from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Japan, South Korea, and elsewhere - making baseball a stronger, more diverse and better game.”
Photo obtained from latimes.com
“Tommy Lasorda, this wonderful man, Hall of Famer in baseball and in life, this is him, so much joy,” wrote Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen. “To win, to love this game, to live and play with joy was his message to us.”
The 14 years Lasorda spent as a professional left-handed pitcher began in 1945 when he signed with the Phillies at 18 years old. Then, after serving two years in the military, he made an astounding return with a 25-strikeout performance against the Amsterdam Rugmakers with the Schenectady Blue Jays. On August 5, 1954, Lasorda was drafted into the major league by the (at the time) Brooklyn Dodgers. After playing two seasons with Dodgers, he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics, pitching one season for the A’s.
Lasorda ended his career as a player in 1960, and scouted for the Dodgers until 1965. From there, he spent six years managing in the minor leagues, and in 1973, came back to the big leagues by becoming the Dodgers’ third base coach under the guidance of future Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston. When Alston retired in 1976, Lasorda took over, launching him into his successful career as head coach.
Lasorda decided to retire as manager after experiencing a heart attack in 1996. In 1997, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and not long after, the Dodgers also retired his jersey (number 2). This meant that no future team members could wear it - one of the highest honors for a player in any sport. However, even after Lasorda ceased being manager, he was still greatly involved with the Dodgers and continued to work with baseball for the rest of his life, such as how in the 2000 Summer Olympics, he led the USA baseball team to a gold medal.
Fortunately, “Lasorda’s wish to see another Dodgers World Championship was fulfilled last October, when he traveled to Arlington, Texas to witness the Dodgers 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 of the World Series,” said the Dodgers.
Photo obtained from twitter.com
“Guys ask me, don’t I get burned out? How can you get burned out doing something you love?”