April 2007

Happy Anniversary

I have to admit I didn?t know the term ?blog? when Major League Baseball Advanced Media asked me to begin a new project called ?Tommy Lasorda?s World.? But it didn?t take long for me to realize the potential of connecting with baseball fans via the computer. Technology has changed over the years, but the relationship between baseball and its fans has been part of the game since the 19th century. Fans have followed the results of their favorite teams and players through many different means of communication over the years — the daily newspaper, radio, television, cable television, satellite radio and now via their computers. At least the basic rules of baseball haven?t changed so dramatically– it?s still 90 feet between the bases!

 Congratulations to my friends at MLB Advanced Media on their second-year anniversary of providing such an array of baseball-related blogs. I still maintain an extensive travel schedule, and in each city, it never fails to have someone comment on something they read on an MLB web site, whether the Dodgers? home page or something in a blog. And people also love the photos provided by our team photographers: Jon SooHoo, Juan Ocampo and Jill Weisleder.

 I spent most of Spring Training at our Vero Beach facility, watching both the Major League and Minor League players. Every morning, I had a chance to see so many minor leaguers having breakfast together in the main dining room and then reporting to one of the fields to begin their day?s work. I couldn?t help but think back when I was a rookie pitcher in the Dodger organization, arriving in Vero Beach with so many hopes and dreams. It?s gratifying to spend time with these future Dodgers because you can see their potential. Sometimes, they just need a pat on the back of an extra boost of confidence. I tell them, ?I know what it?s like to be your age, but you don?t know what it?s like to be my age!?

 The Jackie Robinson Day celebration throughout Major League Baseball was a fitting tribute to a great man and competitor. Jackie was the subject of my first posting on this blog. People always ask, ?What kind of player was Jackie Robinson?? When Jackie was on the field, he was exhilarating. Every at-bat was exciting, and when he got on base, things happened. Our opponents would take shots at him at every base he reached. He knew what they were trying to do, but he never backed down, he never half-stepped, he never relinquished his competitive zeal. He played baseball like he was still in a pair of shoulder pads taking handoffs in the UCLA backfield. His style was not one of reckless abandon. He knew what he risked every time he stepped on the field, but he refused to be intimidated.

 Jackie was also a good friend. He loved to shoot pool with the guys and was very social with everyone in our clubhouse. I’ll never forget what he said to me during my Major League debut. I was struggling a bit and had a few runners on base. Jackie came to the mound from second base and said, "Settle down now. We’ll get you a double play and get out of this." His encouragement meant the world to me.