Regarded by many as baseballss most popular ambassador, Tommy Lasorda begins his 56th season in the Dodger organization and 10th as Vice President. He was named Vice President in 1996 after retiring as manager, a position he held for the previous 20 seasons. Lasorda assumed all player personnel responsibilities when he was named the Dodgers interim General Manager on June 22, 1998. He relinquished his General Manager duties when he was promoted to Senior Vice President on Sept. 11, 1998. In his current front-office capacity, Lasorda spends much of his time scouting, evaluating and teaching minor league players as well as spreading baseball goodwill to thousands as he makes more than 100 speeches and appearances to various charities, private groups and military personnel each year.
Last season saw Lasorda once again take his baseball and motivational expertise to Japan when the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Orix Buffaloes agreed to a fourth year in their friendship agreement that centered around Lasorda consulting with the Buffaloes in all aspects of baseball. Lasorda, who along with the Buffaloes have extended their agreement for one more season, through 2005, in the hopes of building on their successes from 2001 and 2002, spent a total of four months over the last two seasons in Japan not only teaching the fundamentals of baseball to the players but also instructing their baseball operations staff about the business of baseball. Before the association with the Dodgers and Lasorda, the Buffaloes had finished last the previous two seasons but in 2001 they won their first pennant in 10 years and 2002 and 2003 saw them finish second.
On May 5, 2000, he was named to manage the United States Olympic Baseball Team for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. His team, considered underdogs by many, won the Gold Medal on September 27, just five days after celebrating his 73rd birthday. On Nov. 6, the Tom Lasorda Heart Institute at Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, CA officially opened.
In 1997, Lasorda was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in his first year of eligibility. He was the 14th manager and 52nd Dodger inducted into the Hall of Fame. Lasordas uniform number (2) was retired by the Dodgers on Aug.
15, 1997 and the main street that leads to the entrance of Dodgertown in Vero Beach, FL was renamed Tommy Lasorda Lane on March 5, 1997. Lasorda also threw out the first pitch in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Lasorda compiled a 1,599-1,439 record and won two World Championships, four National League pennants and eight division titles in an extraordinary 20- year career as the Dodgers manager. He ranks 13th with 1,599 wins and 12th with 3,038 games managed in Major League history. His 16 wins in 30 NL Championship Series games managed were the most of any manager at the time of his retirement in 1996. His 61 postseason games managed rank third all-time behind Bobby Cox and Casey Stengel. Lasorda posted a 3-1 record as the NL manager in four All-Star Games. He joined St. Louis Gabby Street (1930-31) as the only managers in NL history to win league titles in his first two seasons when he led the Dodgers to titles in 1977-78. Lasorda also managed nine of the Dodgers 16 Rookies of the Year, more than any other big league skipper in history. Prior to replacing Hall of Famer Walter Alston as manager on Sept. 29, 1976, Lasorda spent four seasons
in Los Angeles on Alstons coaching staff from 1973-76. He spent eight seasons as a manager in the Dodgers minor league system at Pocatello (1965),Ogden (1966-68), Spokane (1969-71) and Albuquerque (1972). Lasorda also spent four years as a Dodger scout after retiring as a player following the 1960 season. An astounding 75 players Lasorda managed in the minor leagues went on to play in the majors. Lasorda compiled an 0-4 record and 6.52 ERA as a left-handed pitcher in parts of three major league seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers (1954-55) and Kansas City Athletics (1956). In all, he spent 14 seasons in the minor leagues from 1945-60 and he served two years in the military from 1946-47.
He has won numerous awards throughout his career, including being named Minor League Manager of the Year by The Sporting News in 1970, Manager of the Year by UPI and AP in 1977, Manager of the Year by AP in 1981 and N.L. Manager of the Year by Baseball America and Co-Manager of the Year by The Sporting News in 1988. He was the recipient of the Association of Professional Baseball Players of Americas inaugural Milton Richman Memorial Award with Sparky Anderson in 1987, the BBWAA Philadelphia Chapters Humanitarian Award in 1993, Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerces Award of Merit in 1997, Touchdown Club of Columbus Baseball Ambassador of the Year in 1997, Aretes Courage in Sports Award in 1997 and was honored by the President of the Dominican Republic in 1997 for his dedication to the game of baseball throughout his career.
Lasorda has been a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and serves on the Board of Directors for the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from Pepperdine University, St. Thomas University, Cal State Long Beach, University of Phoenix and Concordia University. He received his sixth honorary degree last December when he was honored by the University of Hawaii. In February 2003, he was honored by Cal Tech when he became only the second person to ever have an asteroid named after them. His asteroid is #6128, otherwise known as Asteroid Lasorda. Lasorda and his wife Jo, whom he has been married to for 54 years, reside in Fullerton, CA. They will celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary on April 14, 2005.The couple renamed a gymnasium and youth center in memory of their son, Tom Jr., in Yorba Linda, CA on Sept. 7, 1997.They are also the proud grandparents of Emily Tess, who is the eight-year-old child of their daughter Laura and son-in-law Bill Goldberg.
Major League Baseball and, of course, the defending National League West champion Los Angeles Dodgers.