Tommy Lasorda is dead at the age of 93, a Hall of Fame manager and one of baseball’s legendary characters who bled Dodger blue through and through.
The Dodgers, whom Lasorda pitched for in Brooklyn and managed to World Series wins in 1981 and 1988, announced the icon’s death on Friday. Lasorda died on Thursday night of a sudden heart attack. His record as Dodgers manager: 1599-1439 and won his division eight times.
Beyond his triumphs on the field, Lasorda will be remembered for a lot of comedy in baseball, some stemming from his own anger, like his protest of a non-call of interference on Reggie Jackson in the 1978 World Series.
There also was Lasorda’s reaction to being asked his thoughts on Dave Kingman’s performance — by then-reporter and now Yankee Stadium public address announcer Paul Olden — after Kingman hit three home runs against the Dodgers.
He also once got Youppi!, the Expos mascot, kicked out of a game.
Then there was the 2001 All-Star Game, when Lasorda was the subject of some physical comedy, knocked over by Vladimir Guerrero’s loose bat in a clip that became a staple of blooper reels for decades to come, thanks to the fact that Lasorda was okay.
And there was that incredible time he got into it with the Phillie Phanatic, hitting the hilarious mascot with a stuffed Lasorda dummy made to mock him.
Established as such a character, and famous for his big belly, Lasorda got a gig in the 1990s as a pitchman for Slim-Fast, another reason that he’s so well remembered.
But it wasn’t just a life of baseball and good humor. Lasorda had a darker side, such as proclaiming that he hoped V. Stiviano “gets hit with a car,” as a bizarre way of trying to stand up for his friend, the legendary racist owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling. More recently, Lasorda also had to apologize for telling a fan from Korea, “Why don’t you go back there?”
And he denied that his own son, who was gay and died of AIDS, was gay and died of AIDS.
Because of those things, it was always a little uncomfortable that Lasorda was known as “baseball’s authentic ambassador of goodwill.”
Lasorda’s death leaves four surviving members of the 1955 world champion Brooklyn Dodgers: pitchers Roger Craig, Carl Erskine, Jim Hughes, and Sandy Koufax.