My 80th Birthday
Today I am fortunate enough to celebrate my 80th birthday. My actual birthday is September 22, 1927, but since the Dodgers are on the road that day we are celebrating today. I am looking forward to the festivities, as the Dodgers are giving away a special bobblehead doll of me. I think it looks great. I have never seen one like it. I am holding my Hall of Fame plaque. I really hope the fans like it too. Just yesterday I signed 80 of them that will be randomly given away at the turnstiles. I hope one of you readers is one of the lucky 80 to get a signed doll.
I have been getting a lot of attention in the media lately about my birthday. The other day I saw a great commercial on Fox Sports Net Prime Ticket promoting my birthday and bobblehead. I’d like to thank FSN Prime for that, and I hope the fans like the commercial as much as my family and I did.
I’d like to thank the Dodgers for honoring me today. I’d like to thank Frank and Jamie McCourt for their love and support. I’d like to thank my family and friends whom I love dearly. And I’d like to thank the Dodger fans. You are, without a doubt, the greatest fans in all of baseball.
You know, when I was a kid we didn’t have fancy birthday parties with lots of presents. Every Christmas my four brothers and I would get the same thing every year; a scarf and gloves. As I look back on my life I am still in awe. I still can’t believe how it turned out. Who ever could have dreamed that the son of an Italian immigrant from Norristown, Pennsylvania, who was the third-string pitcher on the high school baseball team, would end up managing the Dodgers for 20 years?
Who ever could have dreamed that a guy like me who has never stepped foot in college would give six commencement addresses and have six honorary doctorate degrees?
Who ever could have dreamed that I would shake hands with Presidents Nixon and Ford? Hug President Carter? Befriend Presidents Reagan and Bush? Meet President Clinton and George W. Bush?
Who ever could have dreamed I would hang out with the great Frank Sinatra and Don Rickles and travel the world with them?
Who ever could have dreamed that I would join a fraternity of only 15 managers to make it to the Hall of Fame? As I stood at the podium in Cooperstown making my induction speech I told the story of when I was 14 years old. I would actually dream that I was playing for the Yankees and pitching at Yankee Stadium. I would look around the diamond and see Bill Dickey, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Than I would feel my mother shaking me, saying, "Wake up Tommy. It’s time to go to school."
Why didn’t she leave me alone? Why couldn’t I stay in the dream? It was so real!
Standing on that stage in Cooperstown with all the greatest baseball players in the world behind me, I said, "I thank God for all of this, and it won’t be too long before I feel my mother shaking me, telling me to wake up because it’s time to go to school."
I have lived a dream. Thank you.