For more than eight decades, he was the face of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Tommy Lasorda will always remain the embodiment of Dodger Blue.
Lasorda, who managed the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1976-1996, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997 following a career where he won 1,599 games, two World Series and two more National League pennants – all with the Dodgers.
Thomas Charles Lasorda was born Sept. 22, 1927 in Norristown, Pa. He got his start in pro-baseball at the age of 18 as a southpaw pitcher when he signed with the Phillies in 1945, then served two years in the military.
In 1948, Lasorda made a record-making return to the baseball scene with the Schenectady Blue Jays as he authored a 25-strikeout performance. In 1949, the Dodgers drafted him from the Phillies, and he made a new home pitching for the Greenville Spinners and the Montreal Royals. During his time with the Royals, Lasorda led his team to four minor league championships.
Lasorda made his major league debut on Aug. 5, 1954 with the Dodgers. He played for the Dodgers for two seasons before being traded to the Kansas City Athletics, where he pitched for one season.
After the 1960 season, Lasorda ended his playing career and became a scout for the Dodgers until 1965. He managed in the minor leagues from 1966-72, and in 1973 made his way back to the big leagues as a third base coach for the Dodgers under another future Hall of Fame manager: Walter Alston. Alston retired in 1976 after 23 years with the Dodgers, and Lasorda took the reins.
By 1978, he had led the Dodgers to two straight National League championships, and became the first NL manager to win pennants in their first two seasons. After losing to the Yankees in both the 1977 and 1978 World Series, the Dodgers went on to win the World Series over the Yankees in 1981. They defeated the A’s in 1988 to give Lasorda his second World Series title.
After retiring in 1996, Lasorda stayed busy working in baseball. In 2000, he managed the U.S. Olympic Baseball Team to a gold medal in the Sydney Games.
“Guys ask me, don't I get burned out?” Lasorda said. “How can you get burned out doing something you love?”
Lasorda passed away on Jan. 7, 2021.