Tommy Bleeds Dodger Blue
Happy 82nd birthday today to a classy guy, Tommy Lasorda.
Growing up in the 70’s, any fan of baseball had to appreciate Lasorda’s Dodgers even if they weren’t your team. I was a Cubs fan through and through, but Bill Buckner was my favorite player and he came from a top-shelf organization, the LA Dodgers. They had Garvey and Lopes, Cey and Russell, Smith and Baker, Yeager and John, Sutton and Rau, Rhoden and Hooton. But the face of the organization was manager Tommy Lasorda.
Two of my favorite Tommy Lasorda moments – of which there were many – involved the Cubs. The first was when the Cubs made a road trip to Dodger Stadium May 14, 1978 and feast or famine slugger Dave Kingman hit 3 HRs and 8 RBIs to win the game for the visitors from Chicago. After the game a reporter asked Tommy for his opinion of Kingman’s performance.Â Listen to his passionate and profane repsonse:
My other enduring memory of Lasorda came in the twilight of his managerial career, probably 1995 or so. The Dodgers were in town, playing the Cubs at Wrigley. The game itself was forgettable except for this story.Â Tommy Lasorda was a legend, maybe the best known major league baseball manager at the time. He was only the second manager of the Dodgers in the previous 40 or so years having succeeded Walter Alston in 1977.
So at some point in the game, the Dodgers center fielder turned an ankle or some similar minor injury. He went down and the trainer ran out. Then slowly emerging from the visitor dugout is the rotund (pre-weight loss pitchman), white haired baseball legend, manager Tom Lasorda. He too began to slowly jog out to the outfield to personally check on his player (could have been future Cub Todd Hollandsworth?). The crowd roared in a standing ovation as the Wrigley FieldÂ organist played a Tarantella. It seemed to take forever for Tommy to reach the outfield. The player was fine and stayed in the game. Lasorda jogged back to the dugout again to the standing-O and a Tarantella.
These stories each speak to the passion Lasorda has for the game. He always played the game the right way and now is a treasured ambassador for the sport. I tip my Cubs cap in his honor.Â Happy birthday Tommy.