May 2011

Joe Adcock was Dave Kingman for a day:

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

I’ll tell you something about Milwaukee.  We were playing the Milwaukee Braves at Ebbets Field, and Joe Adcock was their first baseman. 

His first at-bat: home run.

Second at-bat: home run.

Third at-bat: home run.

Fourth at-bat: home run.

In his fifth at-bat he just missed a home run but settled for a double.  So he collected 18 total bases. 

Now the next day Clem Labine was pitching.  Adcock comes to the plate and Labine hits him right in the head.  We had the biggest free-for-all you’ve ever seen at Ebbets Field.

It took the greatest LHP to knock me off the ’55 Brooklyn Dodgers:

Jon Soo Hoo

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

This is my claim to fame.  I was summoned to the office of Buzzie Bavasi.

“I got bad news,” Buzzie said.

“What’s wrong, Buzzie,” I replied.  “Is one of your relatives sick?

“I’ve got to cut one guy from this club,” he said.  “And I’m going to have to cut you.”

“Buzzie, I won 18 games last year in triple-A,” I said.  “What do I have to do to prove to you and the manager that I can pitch here in Brooklyn?”

“Look Tommy, I’ve got a tough job,” he said.  “If you were sitting in this chair who would you get rid of?”

And without hesitation I said Koufax.

At that time he couldn’t hit a barn door 60 feet away with a baseball.

“Look Tommy,” he said.  “The rules of baseball provide that if you give a player a $4,000 bonus they have to stay on the Major League roster for two years.  So Koufax stays, and you must go.”

And now I can say that it took the greatest left-hander in the history of baseball to knock me off of that Brooklyn club.

And I still think they made a big mistake!

The long, foggy road of baseball scouting:

Tommy Lasorda as a Dodger scout

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

Being a baseball scout is not always easy.  There are many obstacles that can stand in the way of you signing a prospect.  I scouted for the Dodgers on the East coast for a few years before moving out to California.

I’m in Hazleton, PA looking at a shortstop.  I get a call from my birddog, who was a detective for the Allentown Police Department.  He told me that I better get down there right away because Randy Gumpert of the Yankees is going to sign the boy. 

I jumped in the car, but it was very foggy.  Back in those days they didn’t have bright, white lines painted on the streets.  There was nothing but fog.  So I was praying for someone to pass me so I could follow the tail lights. 

I really slowed down, and someone finally passed me, so I followed them. 

Left, right, left; I was really on his tail.

All of a sudden he stopped really quick, and I bumped into him. 

“Hey buddy,” I said as I got out of the car.  “Don’t you give a signal when you are going to stop?”

“Give a signal?” he said. “I’m in my own garage!”

I followed him right into his own garage.

I’m sorry George Foster:

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

In 1974 I took a Nation al League all star team to Japan to play a seven-game series against the American League all stars.  I knew that these guys going to Japan were not going to really play.  They were going for the money and the experience.  But we had to win this series.

The only way I could get the guys to play was to call them in for one-on-one chats.

I called Bill Madlock over and said, “Bill, don’t tell anyone I told you this, but I just overheard the Japanese people talking and they are going to give a new car to the MVP of this series.  So if you play hard every day and the other guys don’t you’ll win it walking away.”

I told the same thing to Simmons, our catcher, and I told Pete Rose, and I told Parker, Bowa and George Foster the same thing.

None of my guys wanted to come out of the games, and we just bombed the American League all stars.  Now they were going to make the announcement of who the MVP of the series would be.

George Foster hit .460, and he was called out to home plate.  When everybody was watching they presented him with a VCR.

The players all ganged up on me. 

“You told us we would win a car!” they hollered.

“Hold it, hold it,” I said.

And every time George Foster sees me he gets on me all over again.

But we won.

Praying for Harmon Killebrew @BaseballHall @Twins @MLB:

Dear Harmon,

On behalf of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the baseball family, my thoughts and prayers are with you.  For the millions of fans who saw you slug 573 home runs throughout your storied career, you exemplified baseball at its best.  For the millions of youngsters who copied your swing, or more importantly your demeanor off of the field, you exemplified class.  And like those many millions of people who are your fans, I am a fan too, and am hoping and praying for you.

You were one of the greatest to ever put on a baseball uniform.  You were a hitter’s hitter, a consummate teammate as the cornerstone of the Twins franchise, and most importantly a great person.  When I was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame, I could not believe that my name was being mentioned with the likes of Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Harmon Killebrew.

I love you, Harmon.  May God watch over you and grant you comfort and peace.

Your friend,

Tom Lasorda

Hall of Fame 8-3-97

The voice of the Big Dodger in the Sky:

Here is the story that would have aired during last night’s broadcast on 790 KABC as part of the Lasorda at His Best series presented by Skechers.  Too bad the game was rained out:

I was managing the Spokane Indians of the Pacific Coast League and we were playing in Tucson.  We were leading 2-1, bottom of the eighth inning, Tucson had the bases loaded and there were two outs. 

I had a little left-hander on the mound named Bobby O’Brien.  I thought this would be a good time to go out to the mound and fire this guy up; I had to make him believe he could get the batter out.

So I run out to the mound.

“Bobby,” I said.  “If the heavens could come apart, and you could hear the voice of the Big Dodger in the Sky, and he says to you, ‘Bobby, this is the last hitter you are going to face on earth, and you are going to come to me.’”

So I asked bobby, “What are you going to do?  Are you going to go facing the lord giving up a base hit or getting this guy out?”

“Skipper,” he said.  “I want to go facing the lord getting this guy out.”

“Then how do you know when you make that next pitch that you’re not going to die, Bobby?”

“And if you are going to die, son, I want you to die getting this guy out!”

I ran of the field.  Before I got to the dugout the batter got a base hit, two runs scored, and I had to go back out to the mound to take O’Brien out.

“What happened, bobby?”

“Skipper,” he said.  “You had me so afraid of dying I could concentrate on the hitter.”

Now that is motivation.  If I can get a guy to believe he is going to die I sure as heck can get hi to believe he can play better.

I want to work for the Dodgers even when I’m dead:

Jon Soo Hoo

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

One day I was talking to Peter O’Malley and he asked me if I really and truly love the Dodgers as I say.

“You better believe it, Peter,” I said.  “In fact, I want to work for the Dodgers when I am dead and gone.”

“Wait one minute,” he said.  “I can understand you saying you love the Dodgers, but how in the world can you work for the Dodgers when you are dead?”

When I die I want my wife to put on my tombstone, “Dodger Stadium was his address, but every ballpark was his home.” 

But he still wanted to know how I could work for the Dodgers when I was dead.

I told him that when the people were at the cemetery visiting their loved ones, they can go to Lasorda’s grave to see if the Dodgers are playing at home or on the road because I want my wife to put the Dodger schedule on my tombstone.

How many people are walking the streets of the country can honestly and truthfully say they want to work for their company even when they are dead?  If they do, they are without a doubt a happy person.

So in spring training Peter O’Malley presented me with a tombstone, and on it the epitaph read:

Tom Lasorda, a Dodger

And there is a heart with a drop of blood painted blue.  It went on to say:

Dodger Stadium was his address, but every ballpark was his home

Roberto Clemente was a Dodger before he was a Pirate:

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

When the Dodgers optioned Roberto Clemente to Montreal, he was in the same situation that Sandy Koufax was in.  At that time, if the organization gave a player a bonus of $4,000 the player had to remain on the major league roster for two years.   Buzzie Bavasi did not want to have two bonus babies on the roster at the same time, which would put the Dodgers at a disadvantage to the other teams that used all 25 roster spots for veteran players.

So they took a chance to send Clemente out.  They didn’t send him to a low minor league team where he would play; they sent him to triple-A where we would hide him.  Anytime we saw a scout at the ballpark and Clemente was playing we would take hi out of the game.

During one game we were up by a couple of runs in the first inning.  Clemente was on the on-deck circle and I’m coaching first base.  I look up in the stands and see three scouts sit down.

I hollered to the manager and pointed to the stands.  He took Clemente out for a pinch hitter, from the on-deck circle in the first inning!

So Clemente went in to the clubhouse and started to pack his bags.  He was going to quit that day when they took him out and never appeared in the game.

The Pirates eventually drafted Clemente despite our best efforts to hide him.  He went on to become a Hall of Famer.

A memory from the 1980 All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium:

Ken Griffey

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

When Chuck Tanner managed the 1980 National League All-Stars he picked me to be one of his coaches.  The game was played right here at Dodger Stadium.  The score was tied, or we were a run behind, when he told me to get a pinch hitter, as Tommy John was pitching for the American League.

I told him I had just he guy, Ken Griffey.

“No Tommy,” he said.  “Tommy John is a left-hander.  You know that.”

“I know that Chuck,” I said.  “But you have to put him in.”

He couldn’t understand why, but he did.  The first pitch Griffey hit a ball over the 370 sign, which is exactly what he did the year before when Tommy John was pitching for me and Griffey was with Cincinnati.  Het hit a home run over he 370 sign against us, but he hit the same homer for us during the All-Star Game.

And who do you think the MVP the 1980 all-Star Game was?

Ken Griffey.

Why are there so many Italians named Tony?

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

Everywhere I go I always meet an Italian.  Invariably I always meet an Italian named Tony.  I was the Grand Marshall of the Columbus Day parade in New York where my wife and I led 33,000 Italians down 5th Avenue.  I was the Grand Marshall of the Columbus Day parade in Newark, NJ where I led 10,000 Italians in the parade.  I was the Grand Marshall of the Columbus Day parade in Philadelphia where I led 5,000 Italians in the parade.

I have often wondered why there are so many Italians named Tony in this country, and then I found out why.

When they shipped them over from the old country they stamped on their foreheads: TO New York…

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