August 2011

Here’s another Mike Scioscia story for you:

Yesterday was an off-day for the team so 790 KABC didn’t air one of my stories, but here is one that aired a few days ago as part of the Lasorda at His Best series presented by Skechers:

In conversations with Mike Scioscia every once in a while he brings up what I did to him.  The story goes that we drafted him, so I called him on the phone since he grew up in a town in Pennsylvania just a few miles from my home town. 

He wasn’t going to sign with the Dodgers though because he was getting ready to go to Clemson.  I went to his house to pick him up.  My brother Eddie was driving.  We drove to the ballpark in Philadelphia because we were in town to play the Phillies.

He couldn’t believe that I went to his house and that I was taking him to the game.

I took him to our clubhouse in Philadelphia, put a Dodger uniform on him and had him take batting practice on the field.

Now he claims that I lost him $10,000 from his bonus because during BP I was throwing him curveballs that he couldn’t hit. 

But instead of heading for Clemson, the next day he was headed to one of our farm clubs to begin his career as a Dodger. 

Mike went on to be an outstanding Dodger and is now one of the best managers in Major League Baseball.

Mike Scioscia the cyclist:

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

Mike Scioscia had a habit of gaining weight.  He liked to eat.  One winter he was playing the in Dominican and Al Campanis told Ralph Avila to get a stationary bicycle with an odometer, and to check it every Monday and see how many miles he was riding.

Mickey Hatcher told me he was walking by Scioscia’s apartment and he heard the wheels of the bike pumping.

“Man, Mike is really pedaling hard,” said Mickey.

He opened the door, and when he walked in he saw Scioscia lying on the couch with a pizza on his chest, and a Dominican kid was pedaling the bike!

My first lesson in preventing errors:

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

My father, may his soul rest in peace, was a great man.  I learned more from him about the philosophy of life than anyone I have ever met.  He had a piece of ground, and he loved to farm.  We would eat all winter long on the vegetables he dug out of that ground. 

One hot day after working at the Bethlehem quarry we went over to the land.  I was 12 or 13 years old, and loved going there with my father to work with him.

“See that empty milk bottle over there?” he asked.  “About a quarter of a mile straight from here there is a spring.  I want you to fill it up with water.”

“That’s the only bottle I have,” he said, and he hit me upside the head. 

BOOM!

“What are you hitting me for, Pop?”

“If you break that bottle it’s too late to hit you.”

I carried that bottle so tightly that nobody could have gotten that bottle out of my hands.  I thought that if he hit me for not breaking it I couldn’t even imagine how bad it would have been if I had broken it. 

I used that philosophy with my players.  If they make an error, it’s too late to holler at them, but if I got on them before they had a better chance of not making the error.

Another story that aired on 790 KABC:

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

When we were kids we took names of big leaguers as our own.  That’s how much we idolized the major league players.  There was a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers named Van Lingle Mungo (1931-41).  What a name!

So I took that name even though I didn’t know he was right-hander and I’m a left-hander.  Even today when I go home to Norristown, PA  my friends sill call me Mungo.

When Peter O’Malley brought back every living Dodger who played in an All-Star game Mungo was part of that group.  I got to talk to him and I told him about me taking his name.  By golly he thought that was something special. 

He was a great pitcher, and got into some fights too.

República Dominicana:

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

I managed Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic for many years, and I loved it.  The people there love baseball and treated us so well.  One night Ralph Avila and I were at dinner at a doctor’s house way up in the mountains.  Somehow we got in a conversation about me and Ralph said that since we are up in the mountains nobody would recognize me.

As we were backing out of the driveway after dinner there was an old man pushing a cart through the road.  He looks in the car and sees me.

“Lasorda!” he said.  “Como estas mi amigo?”

Some help from the Big Dodger in the Sky:

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

When we used to go into Cincinnati to play a three-game series you knew you were facing the Big Red Machine, and you had to be ready.  I thought I would go to church and get a little help.  When I sat in the pew guess who I sat next to.

Johnny McNamara, the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

I looked at him; he looked at me.  I knew why he was there and he knew why I was there.

At the conclusion of the mass he and I walked out the center aisle.  As we approached the front door he told to wait outside for him as he would be right out. 

I wondered where he was going. 

He went to the side of the church and lit a candle.  Instead of leaving I went to the other side of the church, in front of the alter, and to his side of the church.  When he left and I went over and blew his candle out.

I knew he wasn’t lighting that candle for a dead relative. 

Throughout the game I hollered, “Hey Mac, it ain’t gonna work pal.  I blew it out!”  We clobbered them 13-2.

A few years ago I got a post card from Johnny and his wife Ellen from Rome, Italy, and all it read was, “Try blowing this one out.”

Gilliam and Campanella and the Dodger way:

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

When I got the job as Manager I changed a couple things right away.  I told Jim Gilliam that all he had ever done on the team since ending his career as a player was to coach first base.  I played with Jim, I knew how much knowledge he had and I knew what he could do, so I made him the batting coach.  His eye s got as big as saucers. 

The other thing I wanted was for Roy Campanella to be my coach.

“Roy,” I said.  “I know you can’t walk, but there’s nothing wrong with your brain.  You were a great catcher and I want you to coach our catchers.”

He worked with Ferguson, Yeager and Scioscia.  He couldn’t believe that I asked him to be one of my coaches.  His wife told me that he outlived anybody who had the same affliction he did, and the reason was his interest and enjoyment of working with our catchers.  He worked with them, he hollered at them and he loved them.

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