Baseball Wiki
Dodger 2
(Number retired August 15, 1997)
Tommy Lasorda
Position Manager
(Pitcher: Dodgers 1954-1955; Kansas City A's 1956)
MLB Seasons 21 (managing)
Teams Los Angeles Dodgers
Debut September 29 1976
Final Game June 23 1996 (officially retires July 29)
Total Games 3,040
LCS Appearances 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988
World Series Teams 1977, 1978, 1981, 1988
All Star Teams Manager (1978, 1979, 1982, 1989)
Coach (1977, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1993)
Manager 2000 U.S. Olympic Team
Awards NL Manager of the Year (1983, 1988 Co-manager w/Pirates Jim Leyland)
Hall of Fame (1997)
"Tommy Lasagna"

Thomas Charles Lasorda (September 22, 1927-January 7, 2021) was a Major League baseball pitcher and manager. In 1999 he marked his 50th year in one capacity or another with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers organization, the longest tenure anyone has had with the team (Vin Scully joined a year later).

Playing career[]

Tommy Lasorda signed with the Montréal Royals of the International League in 1950. He was a star pitcher for a total of nine seasons and is the winningest pitcher in the history of the team. He led Montréal to four straight Governors' Cups from 1951 to 1954, and a fifth championship in 1958 when he was voted the International League's Most Valuable Pitcher Award.

Lasorda broke into the major leagues in 1954 as a left-handed pitcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers. After two seasons in Brooklyn, he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics (1956). Playing in abbreviated stints, however, Lasorda never established himself as a major league-caliber player. He did not see major league playing time after the 1956 season and finished his career in 1960 with the Royals.

In 2006, Tommy Lasorda was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Managing career[]

Baseball Hall of Fame
Tommy Lasorda
is a member of
the Baseball
Hall of Fame

Lasorda's first off-field assignment with the Dodgers was as a scout from 1961-65. In 1966, he began managing at the lowest rung in minor league baseball, with the Rookie-Level Ogden, Utah, Dodgers of the Pioneer League. After spending three years managing in Rookie ball, Lasorda was promoted all the way to skipper of the Dodgers' AAA Pacific Coast League farm clubs, first with the Spokane Indians (1969-71) and then the Albuquerque Dukes (1972). He was extremely successful at the minor league level, winning five pennants in seven seasons, and guiding the careers of many future Dodgers who would form the nucleus of Lasorda's contending MLB teams.

In 1973, Lasorda became the third-base coach on the staff of Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston, serving for almost four seasons. He was widely regarded as Alston's heir apparent, and turned down several major league managing jobs elsewhere to remain in the Dodger fold. Finally, Lasorda became the Los Angeles manager September 29, 1976 upon Alston's retirement.

He led the team to consecutive National League championships in 1977 and 1978. Over 20 years at the helm of the Dodgers, he also led the team to two World Series championships (1981 and 1988). Although most do not regard Lasorda as a great strategist, no doubt he was able to inspire teams with his rah-rah style. He was not always the best judge of talent either. In 1993, Lasorda questioned whether then-Dodger Pedro Martinez, because of his slight build, had the size and stamina to be a starting pitcher in the major leagues. Lasorda's views led the Dodgers to trade Martinez to the Montreal Expos where Pedro began to build his Hall of Fame numbers. Many also blame Lasorda for over-working pitchers (especially Fernando Valenzuela and, to a lesser extent, Orel Hershiser) and eventually shortening their careers.

His final game was a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros, at Dodger Stadium (att. 35,467), on June 23, 1996. The following day (June 24) he drove himself to the hospital complaining of abdominal pains, and in fact he was having a heart attack. He officially retired on July 29, having compiled a 1599-1439 record as a manager. His 1599 career wins ranks 15th all-time in MLB history.

After retiring, Lasorda became an executive with the Dodgers. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997 as a manager.

Lasorda came out of retirement to manage the United States team at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. He led the Americans to the gold medal, beating heavily favored Cuba, which had won the gold medals at the two previous Olympics.

Lasorda coached the 2001 All-Star Game as third base coach. A batter released his bat while swinging, hitting Lasorda, but he was unharmed. Barry Bonds later gave him a chest protector.


  • Total games: 3,040
  • Wins: 1,599
  • Losses: 1,439
  • Percentage: .526

Life outside of baseball[]

Lasorda was equally famous for his colorful personality and outspoken opinions regarding players and other personnel associated with baseball. He had a number of obscenity filled tirades, a number of which were taped and became underground classics. The most famous of these is his "Dave Kingman" tirade (see below). He also had an altercation with Doug Rau on the pitching mound in the 1977 World Series which was recorded since he was wearing a microphone. Some considered Lasorda a boorish figure who was simply out to promote just one person -- himself. A classic name-dropper, he befriended Frank Sinatra (a well-known baseball fan) and other entertainment personalities during his career.

In 1991, Lasorda's son Tommy Lasorda, Jr. died of complications due to AIDS. Lasorda has publicly denied his son's homosexuality and illness. [1]

For years, Lasorda appeared in TV ads for Slim Fast diet shakes (with his famous quote, "If I can do it, you can do it."), and Tums antacids. He briefly owned a restaurant chain bearing his name.

Lasorda is the godfather to the brother of major league All-Star catcher Mike Piazza.

In 2006, Lasorda appeared in a series of commercials promoting the MLB Playoffs for ESPN and FOX, in which he tells fan of teams who missed the playoffs "I live for this, you live for this, and the whole world lives for this. To the TV! It's your duty, Judy." Ironically, his own Dodgers were ousted from the playoffs in the first round.


Lasorda managed nine players who won the National League Rookie of the Year award. As can be seen in the linked article, the winners came in two strings of four consecutive players. From 1979 to 1982, he managed Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Howe, Fernando Valenzuela and Steve Sax. From 1992 to 1995, he managed Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raúl Mondesí and Hideo Nomo. Before retiring during the 1996 season, he had also managed that year's rookie of the year, Todd Hollandsworth.

Lasorda's command of Italian made it easier for him to also learn Spanish, which he used while a player in Puerto Rico's Winter League in the early 1950s and which he uses to communicate with Latin players. For example, during the height of Fernando Valenzuela's career, ESPN would occasionally show a clip of Lasorda talking with Valenzuela in passable Spanish.

Lasorda was famous for always eating at Charlie Gitto's, a famous Italian restaurant with a location across from Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis. The proprietor would reserve a table for him whenever the Dodgers played the Cardinals, a tradition that continues to this day. [citation needed]

Lasorda was a manager for the Dominican Winter Baseball League team Tigres del Licey or (Licey Tigers). As noted in that article, he led the team the 1973 Caribbean World Series Title in Venezuela with a series record of 5 wins and 1 loss.

Lasorda openly loath the Phillie Phanatic. While playing the Philadelphia Phillies at Veterans Stadium in 1988, he got into a on-field physical altercation with the Phanatic, while the mascot was in costume. The Phanatic was stomping on a dummy which represented the Dodgers manager. Lasorda, livid at the sight, assaulted the mascot, an incident which was unfortunately witnessed by many fans and children as well.[2]


  1. Torn between two loves Lessons From a Life in and Out of Major-League Baseball. San Francisco Chronicle. (2005-11-30). Retrieved on 2006-11-30.
  2. Tommy Lasorda attacks the Philly Phanatic. Dodger Blues.

External links[]

Preceded by:
National League Manager of the Year
Succeeded by:
Jim Frey
Preceded by:
Buck Rodgers
National League Manager of the Year
Succeeded by:
Don Zimmer
Preceded by:
Walter Alston
Los Angeles Dodgers Manager
Succeeded by:
Bill Russell