Results tagged ‘ Tommy Lasorda ’

Clear blue sky turns Dusty for playoffs

img204By Mark Langill

The paradox for some Dodgers fans entering the playoffs is rooting against the Washington Nationals without hurting the feelings of their manager — the one still wearing wristbands and known by a cool nickname at age 67.

Dusty Baker, the former All-Star and Gold Glove outfielder, is the first L.A. Dodger icon to face his former team as a manager in the postseason. In 1959, Los Angeles patrons weren’t attached to Al Lopez, the former Brooklyn catcher who was piloting the Chicago White Sox in the World Series at the Coliseum. Other opposing managers had played for the Dodgers, including second baseman Willie Randolph (2006 Mets) and reserve outfielder Charlie Manuel (2008-09 Phillies). Danny Ozark (1977-78 Phillies), Bobby Cox (1996 Braves) and Terry Collins (2015 Mets) were former minor leaguers in the Dodger organization.


July 29, 1996: Tommy Lasorda’s farewell as manager

Tommy and Fred Claire with World Series trophy 1988

By Mark Langill

Today is the 20th anniversary of Tommy Lasorda tearfully walking away from his dream job, although the description and duties always varied by the hour.


Sign up now for Dodgers-White Sox Fantasy Camp


fantasycamp_logo300x257By Cary Osborne

The opportunity for you to be a Dodger is back.

Deposits are being taken right now for the second annual Dodgers-White Sox Fantasy Camp — a joint offering from the two teams who share Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona as their Spring Training home. This 2017 fantasy camp will take place January 15-21, 2017.

Tommy Lasord and a new generation of coaches including Pedro Guerrero, Steve Sax, Eric Karros and Eric Gagne are among the former Dodgers already scheduled to appear. Tom Paciorek, the former Dodgers and White Sox player, is serving as camp commissioner.


Emotional first-pitch salute to Vin Scully opens 2016 season at Dodger Stadium

By Jon Weisman

In a breathtaking experience that traversed Dodger history from Don Newcombe to Clayton Kershaw, Vin Scully received an emotional tribute before the first pitch of his final Opening Day at Dodger Stadium as the team’s broadcaster.

Al Michaels, who was considered by some a possible successor to Scully four decades ago, hosted the tribute that mixed video (including messages from Henry Aaron and Kirk Gibson) with live presentations.

The roll call of Dodgers that took the field went as follows: Newcombe, Maury Wills, Sandy Koufax, Al Downing, Rick Monday, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Bill Russell, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Tommy Lasorda and Kershaw, with Magic Johnson and Peter O’Malley then escorting Scully on to the hallowed stadium grass, before an enormous standing ovation from the crowd.

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Top series by Jon SooHoo, bottom by Juan Ocampo

A baseball autographed by every participant was then passed down the line to Scully, who truly looked moved by the moment and said afterward he was “overwhelmed.”

Watching him from ground level, as the scoreboard camera circled around him for its closeup, I never felt more how much of a living legend we were privileged to know, and to call our own.


Tommy Lasorda’s unforgettable moments with Reagans, Carters


Nancy and Ronald Reagan watch Tommy Lasorda speak at the White House following the 1988 World Series. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

One time, Tommy Lasorda recalled today, Ronald and Nancy Reagan paid a visit to Dodger Stadium. It wasn’t their first time there, nor their last. But on this particular day, Mrs. Reagan told Lasorda that she wanted to see the clubhouse.

“She said, ‘Where’s the workout room?'” Lasorda said. “And I took her to the workout room, and we had a machine (she wanted to try). So Charlie Strasser, the trainer, and I, we put her on this thing, and she did it a little bit, and then we had to lift her off. I said, ‘Charlie, if only we had someone taking a picture of her on this thing,’ but there was no one around to take a picture. (But) she worked out with it. She thought it was great. We lifted her up to get on it, and we lifted her off to get off it.”

Speaking one day after the former first lady passed away at the age of 94, Lasorda had several presidential memories to share, especially of the Reagans, whom he was particularly close to.

They met at Frank Sinatra’s house when Ronald Reagan was governor of California, and on the November 1984 night that he was elected to his second term, Lasorda and his wife Jo were part of the celebration.

“(They) and my wife and I were dancing,” Lasorda said. “We stopped on the dance floor and talked to each other, because he wanted to make sure I was enjoying myself and was happy and everything else. He was proud of me.

“I’ve got this one letter that I really treasure that he wrote to me — how proud he was of me and what I accomplished and everything like that. So we were good friends, and I was proud of them both. She was a wonderful, sweet lady. I tell you, I really enjoyed being around her, really enjoyed meeting her and everything like that. She was great. And they loved each other real dearly.”

Lasorda said Nancy sent a birthday card to him every year until last year, when she had fallen ill.


Tommy Lasorda, Nancy Reagan, Ronald Reagan and Fred Claire

Perhaps the most remarkable night came in 1980, before Reagan’s first term as president, the year he challenged incumbent Jimmy Carter. That day, Lasorda had a doubleheader — a speech in Iowa, followed by another in Chicago for the Italian-American Hall of Fame (which in 1989 would induct Lasorda himself).

Getting out of the hotel elevator in Chicago, there was a big crowd, and Lasorda was turning back when the center of the crowd spoke up.

reagan_tommy3“Reagan saw me — ‘Hey Tommy, how are you? Come over and give me a big hug!'” Lasorda remembered. “I said, ‘I got a good feeling you’re gonna win big.’ He said, ‘If I don’t, can you get me a job as an announcer?’

Reagan, of course, began his career after college in 1932 as a sports announcer, during which time he would re-create baseball games from telegraph reports.

“And then that night,” Lasorda continued, “at the big dinner at the Italian-American Hall of Fame, this guy was performing, singing, and all of a sudden somebody walks on the stage and stops the guy singing and takes the microphone away from him. There’s a thousand people in there — what’s going on? The guy says, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.’ It was President Carter — he was there.

“So he got up and congratulated the honorees, and he said, ‘Where’s Tommy Lasorda?’ I was in the table right in front of him, and I raised my hand, and I said, ‘Here, Mr. President.’ He said, ‘Come up here — I want to talk to you up on the stage.’ So I go up on the stage, and he said, ‘When I was coming here, my mother said if I saw you, I have to give you a hug. And he gave me a hug.

“So I was hugged that day by the guy who was running for the presidency, and that night the president hugged me. Pretty unusual, huh?”

If you’re wondering why Carter singled Lasorda out for special treatment, it’s because the Dodger manager had also become close with the president’s mother, Lillian — another Dodger guest from time to time, at Dodger Stadium and elsewhere.

Lasorda Lillian

Tommy Lasorda introduces Lillian Carter to Charlie Hough before Game 4 of the 1977 World Series.

“One day, we’re playing in Atlanta, and Lillian and the president, they were with (Braves owner Ted) Turner. So those Secret Service guys come over — they knew me — and they said, ‘Hey, Tommy. Miss Lillian wants to see you. I walked across the field, and she was there with the president and Ted and everything. She gave me a hug, and she whispered in my ear, ‘I tell you right now, I’m pulling for you today.'”

For Dodger fans, perhaps the most meaningful link between the Dodgers, Lasorda and Nancy Reagan is this. On the most beloved night at Dodger Stadium in at least the past 50 years, the night of Kirk Gibson’s home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, it was Nancy Reagan who threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Lasorda takes credit for recommending her appearance, which she used to promote her “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign, with an assist from Vin Scully.

Bridges to history: Last links to retired numbers

Reese Fairly

By Jon Weisman

With the Dodgers celebrating their 10 retired numbers in a pin series this year, I was curious who was the last active player to take the field with each of these legends. Here’s what I found:

1 Pee Wee Reese
Ron Fairly, who was 19 when making his debut with the 40-year-old Reese as a teammate on the 1958 “Welcome to Los Angeles” Dodgers, was 40 himself when he played his last big-league game in 1978. Years between Reese’s first game and Fairly’s last: 38


Monte Irvin’s brief Dodger chapter

Monte Irvin congratulates Roy Campanella on his 1951 NL MVP Award ("Baseball Hall of Gamers of the Negro Leagues - Monte Irvin." via the State of New Jersey)

Monte Irvin congratulates Roy Campanella on his 1951 NL MVP Award (via State of New Jersey)

By Mark Langill

Monte Irvin, the Hall of Fame outfielder who passed away Monday at age 96, is primarily associated with the New York Giants and the classic comeback from a 13 1/2-game deficit in August 1951 en route to swiping the National League pennant from the Brooklyn Dodgers.

As a veteran of the Negro Leagues and a mentor to Giants rookie Willie Mays, Irvin drove in 121 runs in 1951. He remained with the Giants through 1955 and spent one season with the 1956 Chicago Cubs.

A footnote to Irvin’s playing career was ending with the Dodger organization in 1957 as a member of the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels. The Dodgers purchased the PCL Angels as part of leverage for a potential move to the West Coast, the transaction also including the territorial rights to the Southern California market from Cubs owner Phil Wrigley.

But Irvin suffered a back injury in the second game of the season, and he eventually decided to retire after going 3 for 10 at the plate in four games. Two other future Hall of Famers played with the 1957 Angels: pitcher Tommy Lasorda and infielder George “Sparky” Anderson.

A video retrospective of Irvin’s life follows … (more…)

From Lemmy and Bowie to writing on Dodger heroes

By Cary Osborne

I wanted to be a baseball player when I grew up.

In high school I realized I couldn’t hit a curve ball — or a fastball for that matter — and I was fearful of making mistakes.

The dream died and another was born.


Alston, Lasorda managed own paths to Cooperstown

Lasorda and Alston

By Mark Langill

In the first 31 years of my life, the home team changed its manager only once – the final week of the 1976 season, when Walter Alston passed the torch to his third-base coach, Tommy Lasorda.

Without the benefit of a clubhouse pass, it wasn’t obvious to a sixth grader usually sitting in the Left Field Pavilion that Alston and Lasorda were never close. But it was their differences that made them each last more than two decades as a Dodger manager who would ultimately receive a bronze plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Today, the day that Dave Roberts will be introduced as the newest Dodger manager, is the 104th anniversary of Alston’s birth.


Suspension a key turn in ’88 Dodgers-Mets series

Picture 111By Mark Langill

If Dodger fans are looking for a good omen, L.A.’s 1988 championship season featured a controversial seven-game National League Championship Series against the New York Mets in which relief pitcher Jay Howell was suspended for three games by league president A. Bartlett Giamatti after umpires found pine tar on his glove in Game 3 at Shea Stadium.

Howell’s actions weren’t the subject of national debate like Chase Utley’s slide Saturday into Ruben Tejada in Game 2 of the NLDS. But Howell’s absence (which began with his ejection while the count was 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning and the Dodgers leading by a run) put the Dodgers in a bind because suspended players could not be replaced on the roster.

“The whole incident was totally uncalled for,” former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda said in his 2015 biography “My Way,” written by his longtime assistant Colin Gunderson.