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.

Here are a couple stories about Stan “The Man” Musial:

Photo File

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

We were up in the western part of the state of Pennsylvania and Stan Musial, who was born and raised there was at the dinner with us.  He was at the podium making his remarks, and sometimes when Stan gets started it’s hard to get off.

Joe Garagiola told all of us at the table that if he stays up there any longer that we’ll all get up; he would throw Stan the keys and tell him to lock up when he’s finished.

At another dinner in Pittsburgh I looked out of the window and it started to snow.  I thought we had to get out of town quick or else we would be stuck.  I talked to Stan and to Bob Prince, and we agreed that we had to leave.  I found out there was only one plane leaving.  We drove to the airport and as we were pulling up there a few guys hollering at Stan. 

Stan threw the guys his keys and said, “Those are the keys for my rental car.  Turn it back in for me!”

Prayers for the Kid, Gary Carter:

Ken Levine / Getty Images

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

My daughter, Laura, went top Sunny Hills High School.  She came home one day and told me about a classmate.

“Daddy, we have a really good player on our baseball team,” she said.

“What’s his name?”

“Gary Carter,” she said.

So I went into the office and asked one of our scouts to watch Gary play.  He happened to be playing short stop for that game.  The scout game back and I asked him about Gary and he told me not to worry about him because he didn’t see much.

Don’t worry about it?  The guy ended up in the Hall of Fame!

As you may know, Gary Carter is suffering very seriously.  He is battling brain cancer and is having a tough time with it.

Whoever reads this, please sit down and write a letter to Gary and let him know that you are thinking of him and wishing him well.

Let’s all ask God to take good care of him.

Thank you Branch Rickey:

Mark Langill

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

I went to play baseball in Panama during the winter.  I saved enough money because when I got back I was planning on getting married.  I had saved about $500, but during spring training in Vero Beach, Florida somebody stole it. 

When talking to Branch Rickey I told him I wanted to get married.  He really liked when players were married.

“That’s good,” he told me. 

I told him the only problem was I didn’t have any money.

“How much do you need?” he asked, and I told him $500.  He told me to go over and see Buzzie Bavasi for the money.  I go to Buzzie and tell him about the money to get married.

“Are you crazy?” he asked.  “Why are you getting married without a dime in your pocket?”

 He let me borrow the money.  As the season went along I told him he needed to start taking money out of my check so I could repay the loan.  I kept asking him to do that and he kept telling me he would take it out when we go the playoffs.

At the end of the season he gave me a letter to sign thanking Mr. Rickey for the $500 and stating that I was glad to be able to pay it back. 

I never paid it back.

Every year on our anniversary Buzzie would send a bouquet to my wife and the card would only read, “I’m sorry.”

Playing in Panama:

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

After I got engaged with my wife, Jo, I was supposed to go to Greenville, South Carolina to spend the holidays with her and her family.  But I called her and told her I had to go play baseball in Panama.  She thought baseball in Panama during the winter was crazy.  She had no idea they even played baseball in Panama. 

I had to prove to her that there was a team in the canal zone.  Since you couldn’t take a picture with your phone in those days like you can today, the only thing I could do was to buy her some jewelry from Panama and bring it back, which I did.

When I returned from Panama it was about time for spring training, and that’s when we were married.

I enjoyed my time in Panama.  The people were hospitable, and they loved baseball.  And the Panama Canal is truly an amazing sight to see.

Sax, Monday and the Chicken:

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

Steve Sax was an outstanding player.  He was a breath of fresh air as he played the game with so much enthusiasm.  However, he was not taking a proper lead off of third base.  Every time the pitcher would throw the ball he was standing still instead of taking the proper lead.  So I told Rick Monday that I want him to talk to Sax and explain to him that he has to be moving forward when the ball is thrown. 

Rick sat next to him on the bench and talked to him.  But then Rick came over to me.

“Don’t ever ask me to talk to him about anything ever again,” said Monday.

“What happened?”

“I’m trying to tell him how to take the walking lead off third base and when I finished I asked him if he had any questions,” said Monday.

And Sax said, “Yeah, is the chicken going to be here tonight?”

My players loved Charlie Leibrandt:

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

In spring training something always comes up.  We are playing the Cincinnati Reds in Tampa, Florida.  There’s a left-handed pitcher pitching for Cincinnati by the name of Charlie Leibrandt.  We couldn’t hit the ball out of the infield, and I was getting furious.

“How in the world are you guys letting this guy get you out like that!” I hollered at Reggie Smith.  “Who is he, Lefty Grove?”

“Hey Skip,” he said.  “Calm down.  We want this guy to make the club.”

By golly he did, and when he pitched against us in the regular season our guys lit him up like a Christmas tree.

I hope you fans have enjoyed my stories on 790 KABC as much as I have enjoyed telling them:

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

When you are playing on the road and your guy is going to pitch the next night in another city you have to send him ahead so he doesn’t travel all night and have to pitch the next day.  Mike Strahler was going to pitch in Tacoma so we sent him ahead.  After the game was over I was getting to the airport.  It was kind of late, and guess who I see sitting there…

Mike Strahler.

“You were supposed to be in Tacoma!” I hollered.

“I missed the plane.”

And I have to win pennants with these guys

Jack Fimple did what???

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

At the end of the season we call up players from minor leagues.  One time we called up about four players from the triple-A club.  Three of them arrived together, but the only missing player was Jack Fimple.  I was upset and wanted to know why he wasn’t on the plane with those other three players.

Finally, the next day he arrives.  He hands me a letter.  It was a letter signed by the taxi cab driver.  The letter stated that he had a flat tire, and that is the reason he missed the plane.

Now can you believe a note from the taxi driver?

When he finally arrived we were playing in Cincinnati.  The bus was scheduled to leave at 4 p.m. and we all go down to get on the bus to go to the ball park. 

But the bus was gone.

I asked our traveling secretary, Billy DeLury, what happened to the bus, but he didn’t know either.

We found out that Jack Fimple got on the bus early, but didn’t see anybody.  He thought he arrived late and told the bus driver to go right away. 

Jack Fimple……

The margin of victory:

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

I’ll tell you a story about the International League.  As a player, and I don’t think this has ever been done before or since, but we won the pennant by half a game.  I was playing for Montreal and we had a half game lead over Toronto.  They had to make up a rain-out game in Rochester, but Jack Kent Cooke, the owner of the Toronto club, did not want to send his club all the way to Rochester to play a make-up game.  He just wouldn’t go. 

Believe it or not, Toronto won their last ten games in a row.  We won our last ten games in a row.  But since he didn’t want to play that make-up game we won the pennant by half a game.

That was a close call.  But in 1970 I was managing the Spokane Indians in the Pacific Coast League.  We won the pennant by 26 games!  Not too long ago Baseball America voted that team as the greatest team in the history of minor league baseball. 

Win a pennant by half a game, and win a pennant by 26 games.  You gotta believe!

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