December 2008

Happy Birthday, Frank!


Thumbnail image for Sinatra 2.JPGToday is Frank Sinatra’s birthday.  We should all celebrate because he was a tremendous man who touched many, many lives.

He did something for me that I never ever thought possible, and that I will always be thankful for.

Frank called my mother and my sister-in-law answered.  He asked for Ma Lasorda and said it was Frank Sinatra calling.

My sister-in-law hung up in him.

I called back and said, “Hey, that was really Frank.  Put Mom on the phone.”

Frank told my mother that he was coming to Philadelphia for a concert and wanted to invite her to be his guest.  He also told her that he wanted her to cook my favorite meal, scarole and beans, and hot peppers and sausage.

Well, to ask an Italian lady to cook is very high honor.

So Frank comes to Philadelphia and pulls onto our block. Jilly, his right-hand man, gets out of the car and knocks on our neighbor’s door.  He asks is Ma Lasorda is there, and of course she tells him that she lived next door.

That lady saw Frank and within 20 minutes there was a swarm of cars and the police had to be called in.

The next night at the concert, Frank sent a limo to pick up my mother.  There was a doctor and nurse in the limo who Frank wanted there just to make sure she was okay.

They got to the show, and her seats were in the front row. As Frank started the show, which was at the Valley Forge Theater, he introduced her to the crowd, came down from the stage to give her a kiss and flowers, and dedicated the entire show to her.

What a man!

So today I wish Frank’s family all of my love, and I will always treasure the memories we made during our friendship.

Happy Birthday, Frank.

Order of the Rising Sun


tommy medal.jpgIn 1980, Major League Baseball sent a team of American League All-Stars and a team of National League All-Stars to play a seven-game series in Japan.  I was the manager of the National League team.  We also mixed in two games against Japanese teams. 

Wherever I go, I want to win.  Whether it is at Dodger Stadium, Campo Las Palmas in the Dominican Republic, or, in this case, Japan. 

I had an outstanding ball club.  Our lineup was: Garvey at first, Ozzie Smith at second, Bowa at short, Madlock at third.  Left field was George Foster, center field was Parker and right field was Pete Rose.

The American League had an outstanding club too, and I wanted to beat them bad.

I called Madlock in for a meeting.

“Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but I overheard the Japanese people talking, and they are going to give a car to the MVP of the series,” I told him.  “If you play every game, those other guys ain’t gonna play.  You’ve got it locked.”

I told Parker the same thing.  I told Bowa the same thing.  I told all the players the same thing.

So we really beat the American League, and as we were walking around, saluting the fans, Dempsey yelled from the American League dugout, “You didn’t so much substituting!”

“I didn’t come here to substitute,” I yelled back.  “I came here to beat you!”

Now we are all standing at home plate and they are going to announce the MVP.  George Foster, who hit .480, won by a landslide.

When they called him to home plate, they presented him with a VCR…

When the players heard that, they started to converge on me, and they were angry.

I said, “Hey, don’t blame me; you know how those Japanese people lie!”

Of course I was just kidding. 

All kidding aside, Japanese people are the most respectful, humble and gracious people on earth.

Today, I was honored by the Emperor of Japan with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette.  I couldn’t be more proud and thrilled to receive such a prestigious award.  I would like to thank Consul General Ihara for his gracious presentation, and all the people who attended the ceremony to see me receive the award. 

I want to thank my family; Jo, Laura and Bill, as well as the former Dodgers who attended; Eric Karros, Ron Cey, Charlie Hough and Bobby Valentine. 

I would especially like to thank Acey Kohrogi for all your help, support and respect throughout the years.  Without all of his help, none of this would have happened.

I have been working with Japanese ball players since the 1960s, and have loved every moment of it.  They have come a long way, and I am proud of their progress.

This year, the semi finals and finals of the World Baseball Classic will played at Dodger Stadium.  It is the perfect setting, as it has hosted numerous international visitors over the years, and has seen some of the most exciting and dramatic baseball in the history of the game.  I can’t wait for this March.  It is the best answer to one of baseball’s hardest questions; who is the best in the world.