Through one of the best eras in sports history, Tommy Lasorda gave baseball some of its greatest moments

Through one of the best eras in sports history, Tommy Lasorda gave baseball some of its greatest moments

“Oh and look at Tommy go! He’s beating up the Phanatic”

Even if he was in the middle of a World Series season, Tommy Lasorda still found time to mess around with one of the most notorious mascots of all time.

Lasorda beats up the Philly Phanatic with a doll dressed as himself.

From beating up the Phanatic to being arguably the greatest manager in MLB history, Lasorda brought some of the greatest moments to the MLB during his illustrious career. As a role player on the Dodgers in the 50s and then a two-time World Series champion as a manager, Lasorda will forever be remembered by baseball fans.

Lasorda was born on September 22, 1927, in the small town of Norristown, Pennsylvania. He was bound to be a great baseball player from a young age as he was pitching over 70 MPH since he was 14 years old. Even though he didn’t get drafted, Tommy signed with none other than the Philadelphia Phillies as an undrafted free agent in 1945 and worked his way up the farm system. After a brief stint in the Army between 1946 and 1947, Lasorda returned to the mound and eventually made it to the show. His MLB debut was in 1954 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and he remained in the league until 1956 as a member of the Kansas City Athletics. Even though Lasorda wasn’t a great player, he wasn’t known for what he did on the mound. 

A picture of Tommy Lasorda during the 1955 season. This was his last season as a player for the Dodgers organization.

After a brief off period between his playing days, Lasorda finally made it to the front office of an MLB team. He served as a scout for his first five years in the Dodgers program and eventually led himself to a manager role with the Spokane Indians, the Dodgers AAA affiliate. After leading the team through relocation, Lasorda brought home two AAA championships and got himself an even bigger role with the team that brought him into the big leagues.

Tommy was hired as the Dodgers third-base coach in 1973 under Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston, and even though Lasorda was highly regarded as a great hire for other MLB and minor league teams, he stayed true to the team that gave him a chance as he stayed with the Dodgers. It wouldn’t be long before Alston retired, and Lasorda was finally brought into the conversation as being the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Once Alston retired after the 1976 season, Lasorda was immediately hired to take his place as this was one of the best moves in MLB history. Lasorda would never turn his back on this organization as he developed great players like Mike Piazza and Kirk Gibson, bringing home two World Series titles to the streets of LA in the 1981 and 1988 seasons. Throughout his 20-year span as a manager, Lasorda won four National League pennants and 8 division titles. He managed 61 postseason games in his career and ranks fourth all-time on that list; he also managed four MLB All-Star games in his career. After suffering a heart attack midway through the 1996 season, Lasorda retired, finishing his amazing career with a .526 winning percentage and 1,599 wins.

Lasorda celebrates his second World Series title in the Dodger clubhouse. The Dodgers were huge underdogs in this matchup.

After being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997 along with his #2 jersey number being retired, Lasorda would have brief stints as the manager of the gold medal-winning USA baseball team at the 2000 summer Olympics in Sydney and served as the third-base coach for the National League All-Star team in 2001. During all of this, Lasorda served as a Dodgers executive until 2016, where he retired to live his life out.

Lasorda drapes the American flag over himself after their 4-0 upset win over Cuba to win the baseball gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Lasorda passed away on January 7, 2021, at his home in Orange County, California after a long battle with heart problems. He was 93 years old.

Through the thick and thin in one of the MLB’s greatest eras ever, Tommy Lasorda brought the Dodgers, MLB fans, and people around the earth to enjoy the lifestyle of America’s past time. With Lasorda’s passing, he will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever do it, and I hope that MLB fans from past to present to future generations will never forget the legacy he left behind.