Tommy Lasorda dies at 93 — Big Joe remembers the American icon
Tommy Lasorda was not only baseball's biggest ambassador, he was a celebrity that many admired including me. Tommy passed away Friday, Jan. 8, at the age of 93. He was deeply loyal to not only the game of baseball but to the Los Angeles Dodgers, his friends, family, and his wife who he was married to for 70 years.
He always said that the Los Angeles Dodgers were the greatest organization in baseball. He was a player, scout, coach, and manager for the dodgers, winning two World Series in '81 and '88. He was named manager of the year in 1983 and 1988. He coached the 2000 USA baseball team to an Olympic gold medal. After managing the dodgers they made him the Vice President of Baseball Operations.
He was fairly short in stature but his personality was bigger than life. He was an A-list celebrity appearing in movies and TV shows. He had major celebrity friends including Frank Sinatra who insisted that he had Tommy's home and office number.
His Dodger office was legendary and included wood paneling, framed photos of him with celebrities and presidents, and he had a hot plate in his office so that he could whip up and eat a plate of his favorite pasta.
He struggled with his weight and became a spokesperson for Slim Fast. As I know from personal experience, the weight came off and then back on. Tommy had joked that he lost 2,000 lbs. in his lifetime, but put on 2,050.
I had the pleasure of meeting Tommy in the mid '80s in Chicago. I was living in Chicago at the time and working for NBC TV. A few of my coworkers and I were out at a night club called Faces. We had a VIP table by the dance floor. In walks Tommy and the manager of Faces comes over to me and asks if Tommy could share our VIP table. Tommy was with a couple of Dodger coaches and I said of course. He couldn't have been more pleasant. He was telling jokes, laughing and holding court.
He soon turned the night club into a bad wedding reception by throwing off his suit coat and dancing up a storm on the dance floor. Women soon joined him on the dance floor and surrounded him. It was a night I remember well.
There will never be another person that'll be a better spokesperson for all of baseball. Whatever your favorite team was, you still liked Tommy Lasorda. I did.
55 baseball players from NJ (that Joe V could find stock photos of)