Tommy Lasorda, the baseball coach and manager who managed the Los Angeles Dodgers for 20 years, has died. He was 93.
“Tommy Lasorda was one of the finest managers our game has ever known,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. “He loved life as a Dodger. His career began as a pitcher in 1949 but he is, of course, best known as the manager of two World Series champions and four pennant-winning clubs. His passion, success, charisma and sense of humor turned him into an international celebrity, a stature that he used to grow our sport. Tommy welcomed Dodger players from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere — making baseball a stronger, more diverse and better game. He served Major League Baseball as the Global Ambassador for the first two editions of the World Baseball Classic and managed Team USA to gold in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Tommy loved family, the United States, the National Pastime and the Dodgers, and he made them all proud during a memorable baseball life.”
Lasorda managed the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1976 to 1996, and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2020, Lasorda celebrated his 71st year as part of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers organization, which is the longest tenure anyone has had with the team.
Lasorda was born on Sept. 22, 1927 in Norristown, Penn. Before he became an executive, Lasorda started his career as a Major League Baseball pitcher, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1954 to 1955 and the Kansas City Athletics in 1956. Lasorda then went on to manage a handful of minor league teams, including the Dodgers’ AAA Pacific Coast League team the Spokane Indians from 1969 to 1971. When the Dodgers moved the club to the Albuquerque Dukes, Lasorda stayed on as manager, and the team won the PCL championship in 1972.
In 1973, Lasorda joined the Dodgers as a third-base coach for Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston. When Alston retired in 1976, Lasorda became the Dodgers’ manager. During his 20-year tenure as manager, Lasorda scored a record of 1,599 to 1,439 and won two World Series titles, in 1981 and 1988. At the time of his retirement, Lasorda’s 16 wins in 30 National League championship games were the most of any manager.
Lasorda also made several film and television appearances, including voicing commentator Lucky Lasorda in “Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco,” portraying the Dugout Wizard in television show “The Baseball Bunch” and making a cameo appearance in 1992’s “Ladybugs” alongside Rodney Dangerfield. Lasorda also appeared as himself in shows like “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Silver Spoons, “Who’s The Boss?,” “CHiPs,” “Hart to Hart,” “Fantasy Island,” “Hee Haw,” “Simon & Simon” and “American Restoration.”
“I am extremely fortunate to have developed a wonderful friendship with Tommy and will miss him,” said Manfred. “It feels appropriate that in his final months, he saw his beloved Dodgers win the World Series for the first time since his 1988 team. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest sympathy to his wife of 70 years, Jo, and their entire family, the Dodger organization and their generations of loyal fans.”