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Tommy Lasorda (1927–2021), legendary Dodgers manager

by Kirk Fox

Tommy Lasorda was the legendary colorful Los Angeles Dodgers manager who won two World Series championships with the team in the 1980’s.

  • Died: Thursday, January 7, 2021. (Who else died on January 7?)
  • Details of death: Died at the age of 93 from cardiac arrest.
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Legendary Dodgers Manager

Lasorda was briefly a Major League pitcher but it was as manager that he became a star. Starting as a scout for the Dodgers, he eventually rose to become their third base coach in 1973 and manager in 1976. During his time leading the team, the Dodgers won two World Series in the 1980’s, four National League pennants and eight division titles. He was known as a charismatic leader, one who was generous with praise for good work. He had some memorable funny moments on the field with the Phillies mascot, the Phillie Phanatic. Lasorda was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. After retiring, he was an ambassador for the Dodgers, appearing at many of their games and events. He was at the game in 2020 when the Dodgers won the World Series.

Lasorda on why he was a successful manager

“I made guys believe; I made them believe they could win,” he said in the course of a conversation that spring of 2013. “I did it by motivating them. I was asked all the time, ‘You mean baseball players that make $5 million, $8 million, $10 million a year need to be motivated?’ They do. That’s what I did.” – ESPN

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He was active after he retired

In the years after his retirement, Lasorda held many roles with the Dodgers,, becoming vice president and then served a time as general manager before being named senior vice president and finally special adviser to the chairman. In 2000, he managed the U.S. team at the Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, leading the team to a gold medal. In 2008, he managed the Dodgers during a brief period when then-manager Joe Torre was traveling with team members in China, and in 2011, Lasorda was the Dodgers’ honorary coach in celebration of his 84th birthday. Outside of baseball, Lasorda was part owner of Lasorda Foods, known best for its line of pasta sauces. He appeared as himself on TV shows including “Who’s the Boss” and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” as well as in the Rodney Dangerfield movie “Ladybugs.”

Tributes to Tommy Lasorda

Full Obituary: USA Today

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