This Day In Sports (July 31): 1996 - Tommy Lasorda Retires
Can you think of anyone else that bled more Dodger Blue than Lasorda? PIC: CNS/Reuters
One of baseball's most engaging personalities and a great ambassador for his sport. Managed Dodgers with an impenetrable passion, claiming to "bleed Dodger Blue." In his 47th season with the Dodgers organization when he retired as manager. Fourth manager in history to guide same franchise for 20 years, during which he won eight division titles, four NL Pennants and World Championships in 1981 and 1988. 61 post-season games managed ranks third most in history.
The words on Tommy Lasora’s plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown say it all.
For more than 80 years, there was certainly no one that embodied the Dodger culture like Lasorda. And, if you ask him, it was easy to do it, considering he spent 47 years formally in the Dodgers system - as a scout, player, coach, manager, and of course, a public figure.
Lasorda won just a hair under 53% of the games he managed in a Dodger uniform. He won the NL Manager of the Year honor twice, and took home two World Series championships with the Dodgers. He managed nine players that won Rookie of the Year honors. He managed legendary names such as Hall of Famer Mike Piazza, five-time All Star Steve Sax, Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe, and two-time no-hitter pitcher Hideo Nomo.
So many memorable moments were produced by Lasorda, and this video is just one glimpse into his long & prolific career. Who can forget when he took a tumble in the All Star Game after a bat came his way on the third base line? Or when he beat down the Philly Fanatic mascot after moving an ATV off the field? So many legendary moments.
His final game came a few weeks before July 31st, 1996; the Dodgers picked off the Astros at Chavez Ravine in 4-3 fashion. The next day, though, what he thought was abdominal pain turned into a heart attack, and he drove himself to the hospital. After mulling it over with family, friends, and the Dodgers brass, late July brought a passing of the torch to former shortstop Bill Russell, who took over as the full-time manager…becoming only the third face to manage the team in 43 years.
The embodiment of Lasorda’s career is his quote on doing what he loves. “Guys ask me, don’t I get burned out?” he once told the media. “How can you get burned out doing something you love?”