Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda Passes Away

by Senji Torrey

Media Production Editor

On Jan. 7, legendary Los Angeles Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda passed away after suffering an episode of cardiopulmonary arrest. He was 93 years old.

Lasorda had unfortunately been struggling with serious heart problems for decades. Most notably, Lasorda suffered a heart attack in 1996, days after undergoing angioplasty surgery, which marked the end of his time in the dugout. More recently, in 2012, he suffered yet another serious heart attack that further worsened his condition and also forced him to have a permanent pacemaker implanted.

Many top organizations mourned the death of this beloved individual. The LA Dodgers sent out a statement that detailed the many achievements of his life. They later released a shorter statement that simply read “We miss you, Skip.” The Dodgers also decorated their stadium with small accents, such as the blue number two—his retired number that he had as a Dodger player—on the pitcher’s mound and centerfield space, as well as garlands of flowers surrounding a red number two.

In addition to the Dodgers, almost every other professional sports team in the area expressed their support and sorrow. Among those teams were the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Football Club, and the Los Angeles Chargers.

Many famous figures also chimed in to offer their condolences to the Lasorda family. Boundary-breaking former tennis star Billie Jean King remembered Lasorda as “A true ambassador for baseball,” while current Dodger relief pitcher Kenley Jansen shared a heartwarming video of Lasorda belting out a song with a mariachi band in the Dodgers’ locker room. Hall of Fame Lakers’ player Magic Johnson also wrote regarding “‘Mr. Dodger,’” writing, “I will miss our conversations about the Dodgers & the Lakers. He meant the world to the Dodgers organization, MLB, and to the city of Los Angeles.”

Despite the setbacks in his health, Lasorda was still able to produce an extraordinary career. In fact, just a year after his 1996 incident, Lasorda was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame. During his induction speech, Lasorda used 15 minutes to thank all of his family, mentors, and other benefactors for his success. He explained: “You know I think it’s a day for thanks-giving, to thank the people who made it possible for me to be here.” 

Not even for a second did Lasorda commend his preeminent career, one that was defined by four pennants and two World Series titles. Further, Lasorda didn’t bring up his winning-record seasons that number in the double-digits. He simply thanked each and every person who had an effect on a career that he described as “the dream.”

(Sources: Baseball Reference, ESPN, LA Times, MLB)

Photo courtesy USA Today

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