April 2011

Here is my story that aired on KABC 790 as part of the Lasorda at His Best series presented by Skechers:

Tony LaRussa and the Cardinals were struggling. I was talking to him about it and offered a little advice.

“What’s the greatest horse classic in this country?” I asked Tony.

The Kentucky Derby.

“In that classic are supposed to be 10 or 12 of the greatest horses in the world, right?”

Yeah.

“Aboard those 10 or 12 great horses are supposed to be 10 or 12 of the greatest jockeys, right?”

Yeah.

“When that great jockey is aboard hat great horse, what does he have in his hand?”

A whip.

“Why does he have to have a whip if he thinks he’s aboard the greatest horse in the world? Does he hit that horse coming out of the gate? He hits in on the backside when he’s coming down the stretch to extract every ounce of energy, every ounce of determination that the horse has.”

Tony, get yourself a whip!

Hall of Fame Managers:

Here is my story that aired on KABC 790 as part of the Lasorda at His Best series presented by Skechers:

Being a manger for 20 years, I have a lot of respect for other managers.  Especially Sparky Anderson, Whitey Herzog, Dick Williams; to me, they were outstanding managers.  When I was on the committee that selects managers and umpires for the Hall of Fame, Whitey missed Cooperstown by one vote, and that really upset me. 

The committee votes every two years.  Missing by one vote is tough, and I called Whitey and I told him how badly I felt that he didn’t make it.  I told him his chance would come again, and the next time we voted he made it. 

I was so proud and happy for him.  He is a great friend, but when we are competing against each other on the field, nobody is my friend unless you are wearing the Dodger uniform. 

I felt the same way about Sparky Anderson.  We played together and were great friends, but when he was managing the Reds and I was managing the Dodgers all of it went out the window.

Whitey, Sparky and Dick are all Hall of Famers, and deservedly so.  They all made contributions to the game of baseball, and they were all winners.

I am proud to call them my friends.

Blogging about the Bulldog:

Here is my story that aired on KABC 790 as part of the Lasorda at His Best series presented by Skechers:

When Orel Hershiser was called up, the first time I put him in a game Jose Cruz was the hitter and the bases were loaded.  He threw a strike, and the next pitch Cruz hits the top of the left-center field fence and clears the bases.  The next day I told Ron Perranoski, our pitching coach, to bring Hershiser in because I wanted to talk to him.

“I never saw a pitcher pitch as negatively as you,” I told Hershiser.  “You were afraid to throw the ball over the plate.  You were saying to yourself, ‘I better not throw the ball there or he is going to hit it.’  Instead, you should have been saying to yourself that you are going to throw the ball there and he aint going to hit it!”

But he was thinking negatively, and he did not have the confidence in himself.

I went on, “And furthermore, I don’t like your first name, Orel.  If I bring you in tonight to pitch to Dale Murphy and the PA announces, ‘Now pitching for the Dodgers, number 55, Orel Hershiser,’ Murphy is going to think hitting against you is going to be easy.”

“From now on your name is Bulldog!  You are going to act like a bulldog.  You are going to pitch like a bulldog.  And you are going to walk around like a bulldog!”

“Now when the PA announces number 55, Bulldog Hershiser, Murphy is going to be thinking you have got to be mean to have a name like Bulldog.”
Well, he began to pitch like a bulldog, and everybody knows what he did. 

He broke Drysdale’s record.  I saw it, but I couldn’t believe it.

Happy 61st Anniversary Jo!

 

Today my wife Jo, and I, celebrate our 61st anniversary.  I wrote this letter to God on our anniversary last year, but I feel as strongly today as I did when I wrote it:

April 14, 2010

Dear God,

I thank you every day for blessing me with my beautiful wife, Jo.  Today we celebrate our 60th anniversary, as we were married under your eyes on April 14, 1950.  If I could have written down on a piece of paper what I wanted in a wife, you couldn’t have given me anyone finer thanJo.

The love I have forJo, I learned from loving you.  Just as you have filled my life with light, and my heart with love, I hope I have passed that overflowing feeling to her.  With all my heart, I made a commitment to her, to be a loving husband and a dedicated father, and I lived my life to fulfill that commitment. 

Together we started a life built on the hope of a prayer.  They all said it would never work, an Italian Catholic from the north and a Southern Baptist. 

Together we built a family, and looking in the eyes of our children we realized the meaning of your love and the significance of life’s purpose.

Together we danced the dance of life, and through the good times and the bad, I am so thankful thatJocarried me with her grace and her faith.  Where there was darkness she gave me light.  Where there was despair she gave me hope.  Where there was doubt she gave me faith.  It’s your love that I want, but it’s hers that I need. 

I love her with all my heart, and I will be forever grateful for the precious gift you gave to me.  These 60 years withJohave been breathtaking, and I ask you for another 60 years together.

Sincerely,

TomLasorda

A memory from my days managing in the Rookie League:

Bill Buckner

Here is my story that aired on KABC 790 as part of the Lasorda at His Best series presented by Skechers:

When I managed in the Rookie League I did a lot of strange things.  For example, I got Billy Buckner and I told him to go inside and get some stationary and pen.

“What for?” he asked.

“Just do what I tell you!”

He came out with the stationary and pen.  I told him he was going to write a letter, and it would go like this:

Dear Wes,

You don’t know who I am.  My name is Bill Buckner.  I play for Tommy Lasorda up here in Ogden, Utah.  Tommy tells me you are a good friend of his.  And this is why I am writing this letter, to tell you I’m coming to take your job. 

“Why do that?” Buckner said.

I told him that when Parker gets the letter he is going to want to know who you are, and he is going to look at the batting averages in the Sporting News. He is going to find out that you’re hitting .390, and he is going to start worrying.

Buckner took Parker’s Job.

Garvey wrote a letter to the third baseman.

Valentine wrote a letter to the short stop.

In the eight years I managed in the minor leagues, 75 players left me and went to play in the big leagues.  I wanted to instill self confidence in my players, and I wanted them to believe they would play at Dodger Stadium.

The case of the missing pig:

Joe Becwith

Here is my story from last night that aired on 790 KABC as part of the Lasorda at His Best series presented by Skechers:

We were playing in Atlanta, and one of our pitchers, Joe Beckwith, came over to me and said, “Hey skip, how about coming over to the lounge?  I’ve got a bunch of guys from Auburn University (where he went to school) and tell us some stories.” 

So I went over to talk to his friends.  He introduced me to everybody and we talked for a while.  One of the guys raised Yorkshire pigs, which are supposed to be the best. 

Two weeks later I received a big box at Dodger Stadium, and something in the box was moving.  I opened the box and there was a Yorkshire pig.  Before the game started I let it out of the box and kept it in my office.

About the sixth inning I get a call in the dugout. 

“Mr. Lasorda?”

It was the people upstairs in the infirmary on the eighth floor.

“Do you own a pig?”

“Yeah, why?” I asked.

“There is a pig walking around up here.”

Jay Johnstone and those guys put the pig in the elevator and pressed 8.  When the door opened the pig walked out!

We had to send someone up there to get the pig and bring him back home where he belongs.

Blogging about the managers of the Giants:

Associated Press

Here is my story that aired on 790 KABC as part of the Lasorda at His Best series presented by Skechers:

As a manager it is your job to constantly be evaluating talent.   But that goes for judging talented managers too.  I have told people for a long time that Bruce Bochy is a good manager.  I’ve been telling people that since he was with the Padres, but he has done a great job for the Giants too.

He never won with the Padres, but he was their manager for a long time, and to go a long time as a team’s manager without winning means you have to be good.  But last year the Giants won the World Series and he finally got that gold ring.

Roger Craig was a teammate.  He was a former pitcher, just like me, and I thought he knew the game of baseball very well.  He liked to play Dodger baseball, with lots of running, a lot of stealing, a lot of bunting and a lot of squeezing.  As a manager you have to manufacture runs.  If your team can’t manufacture runs you are going to be in trouble.

Blogging about the Penguin, Ron Cey:

My great friend and Hall of Famer, Joe Garagiola

Here is my story form yesterday’s edition of Lasorda at His Best presented by Skechers:

The first time they had me mic’ed is when Joe Garagiola asked the commissioner to put a live mic on me during a game.  This was the first time putting a mic on coach was ever going to be done, and Garagiola told the commissioner he had the right man for it, Tommy.

They gave me two innings.  I explained how I got signs from the manager and how I relay the signs to the players.  We didn’t have much action, 1-2-3 outs and the inning was over, but I had another inning coming.  There was a left-handed pitcher named Ken Frailing.  First guy up was Buckner, and he hits a line drive base hit.

 “Uh oh,” I said.  “Put the camera on his face.  This young man probably didn’t sleep a wink last night knowing he had to pitch to this great Dodger team.”

 The next guy hits a line drive and said, “You better get the married men off of the infield or somebody’s going to get killed out there.”

 And that’s when Ron Cey came up to bat. 

 “If he throws Penguin a low fastball he’s going to hit it right in those left field seats!”

 By golly there came a low fastball and the Penguin hit it into the bleachers.  They were upstairs in the booth in amazement that I could call a shot like that, so they gave me another inning which I enjoyed very much.

Blogging about my buddy Don Rickles a.k.a. Mr. Charm:

Here is my story from last night’s edition of Lasorda at His Best presented by Skechers:

Don Rickles was so funny, even when he wasn’t acting or performing.  He has always been a real Dodger fan, and a good friend, so I thought I would make him my batboy.  We had already cinched the division, so I put him in uniform.

Although he was my batboy, I told him to go out to the mound and make the pitching change.

“What?!” he hollered.

So he goes out to the mound and I see him talking and talking and talking, but I don’t see the pitcher move.  The umpire calls to me in the dugout and wants to know what was going on out there.  They walk up to the mound, and who do they see but Rickles. 

They all shake hands with him and ask him for tickets when he performs in Las Vegas.

The pitcher didn’t want to come out of the game, but Rickles told him he had to go.  He refused to come out, so we let him finish the inning.

Blogging is outstanding:

Here is my story from last night’s edition of Lasorda at His Best presented by Skechers:

I was a moinor league manager in Ogden, Utah, and I can remember one time I was so mad at my players that I slammed the door shut.  The players were sitting in front of their lockers in line.  I started from the first player in line and went all the way down, hollering at each one of them.  Billy Buckner was first in line, and I said, “Don’t you ever get thrown out of another game!  I don’t like it!  You get thrown out before I can even get to the umpire and you are not going to do it again!”

And I continued hollering at each guy down the line.

The baseball coach at BYU asked me to sign one of his players.  He promised the player he would try to get him in professional baseball.  I was happy to sign the kid because he was great; he never smoked, he never drank, he never caused any problems, never talked back.

As I was going down the line of players he was coming up.  All the other players were anxious to hear what I was going to say to him because he was such a nice young man. 

When I got to him I said, “And you, I was just like you when I got into this game!”

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