By Tim Peterson
I wonder how Tommy Lasorda answered when Jesus asked him about his performance?
That would have been an interesting conversation huh? But one thing is for sure Lasorda would have answered in the way he always did – brutally honest. When I think of Tommy Lasorda, the former Dodger pitcher/ manager/ scout/ icon/ legend who passed away Thursday night at the age of 93, one thing stands out.
It’s not the 21 years that he spent as the Dodgers manager, although that was an amazing run. It’s not the two World Series or the four National League pennants that he won as the Dodger manager, although those are great accomplishments. It’s not the fact that he used to entertain celebrities like Don Rickles and Frank Sinatra in his office after games or that he was once sent back to the minors to make room on the roster for another lefthander named Sandy Koufax. Those are really cool things and will make for some nice stories to tell one day about a legend.
The thing that stands out about Lasorda is his loyalty. Lasorda may be the most loyal individual in the history of sport. Did you know that Lasorda spent 71 years in the Dodger organization? Who does that? Who spends 71 years with anybody? With anything?
He was a player for the Dodgers, yes cut as pitcher in favor of Koufax in 1954, then a coach in the minors and majors, and then made his hay as a manager. He stepped down in 1996 due to heath issues but he was far from done. I mean, that was 25 years ago. He went on to spend time as a scout, ambassador and where ever else the team needed him. At the age of 85 Lasorda was at spring training in Arizona helping the club out.
Lasorda turned down several other managing jobs to stay with the Dodgers before and after taking over as the team’s manager. Lasorda wasn’t going anywhere. When Tommy said there was a “Big Dodger in the sky” you actually believed there was. He liked to say that he bleeds Dodger blue and and after seven decades he proved that to be true. To Lasorda it wasn’t Dodger Stadium, it was “Blue Heaven”.
if you google Tommy Lasorda you will most likely come across some of his notorious rants, the most notable being the one where a reporter asks him in an interview after a game what he thought of Dave Kingman’s performance. Kingman had just killed the Dodgers with three home runs and 8 RBI. Although what you will hear from Lasorda is a litany of F-Bombs, you will also realize is Lasorda’s anger stems from his competitiveness and his loyalty to the Dodgers. He hated losing and he hated losing as a Dodger.
In another rant he goes after Kurt Bevacqua of the San Diego Padres after Bevacqua accused the Dodger manager of throwing at him. Again Lasorda, fiery as they come, would always defend himself, his players and the Dodgers in every situation. “Bevacqua couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a “blanking” boat!” Lasorda bellowed.
Some say the Lasorda’s language was too much. I would say it was needed at times and was proof of Lasorda’s commitment to winning and to the Dodgers.
Lasorda once said that when he dies he wants the Dodgers schedule to go on his tombstone so those visiting their loved ones would consider stopping by Tommy’s grave to see if the Dodgers were playing.
Great manager, incredible motivator and arguably the most loyal man to one organization that ever lived. That was Tommy Lasorda.
Only Tommy Lasorda could upstage the NFL Playoffs but they start this weekend so here we go:
Bills over Colts – It’s Buffalo’s year…at least until the AFC Championship game.
Titans over Ravens – In King Henry we Trust.
Browns over Steelers – I just don’t trust the Steelers right now.
Seahawks over Rams – Goff? Wolford? Nah…Russell Wilson? Yes!
Buccaneers over Washington Football Team – WFT = WTH?
Saints over Bears – Does this pick really need an explanation?
Note: I’m picking the Seahawks as a unbiased sportswriter, not a fan. I’m still hoping the Rams can “pull something.”
But if it goes the way I think it will I’d like to see a reporter ask Sean McVay what he thought of Wilson’s performance.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tspeterson40.