RIP Tommy LaSorda, 1927-2021

19 03 2021

It didn’t take long for 2021 to continue the trend of us losing Hall of Famers.  On January 7th, after years of scares from heart troubles, a heart attack claimed the life of former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda.

Lasorda’s baseball life was incredible.  If he never went into managing, he would have been footnoted as a great minor leaguer who just didn’t make it at the next level.  He won 136 games in the minor leagues – 110 of them at the AAA level.  He’s the Montreal Royals (the Dodgers’ top farm team from the 40s and 50s) all-time leader in wins and is in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.  Yet he pitched in a total of 26 games at the Major League level and never notched a pitching victory: 0-4, 6.48 ERA, 37 K, 56 walks and 53 hits in 58 innings.  Clearly he had good stuff that he couldn’t control.  He did get one save!  Though I think that may have been retroactive – before MLB actually called it a stat.

Lasorda may have been the victim of bad timing, he lost 2 years (1946-47) while enlisted in the Army.  But he also was part of a great organization in the Dodgers.  He threw pitches to Roy Campanella.  He was on the same staff of Sandy Koufax and Don Newcombe in the Majors and with Don Drysdale in the Minors.  He was teammates with Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges and (with the KC Athletics) Enos Slaughter. He pitched (albeit poorly) for the the “Dem Bums” team that ended the Dodgers World Series drought.

His managerial record is stellar.  1,599 wins, 2 World Series wins and 2 more appearances.  If you just looked at those 20 years at the helm for the Dodgers I don’t think that would make him the slam dunk Hall of Famer that he ended up being.  From 1948 on, with the exception of 1956 when he was with the A’s and Yankees organizations, he was a Dodger.  70+ years affiliated with the same organization in just about every capacity (minor leaguer, major leaguer, scout, minor league manager, major league coach, major league manager, front office executive and consultant).  And the pizazz and general fun that he was known for, which is well captured in the card above.  He lived a good, long life, and though the Dodgers are the reigning champs – they will miss not having Lasorda as a part of their organization for the first time since they moved to Los Angeles.

RIP Tommy Lasorda – 1927-2021.


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