RIP, Tommy Lasorda

Baseball’s Santa Claus is dead.

RIP, Thomas Charles Lasorda. Your belly entered a room 5 minutes before the rest of you. But when you caught up, what a party it was. You were loud, profane, big-hearted and funny.

Has Dodger Nation ever been this blue? It seemed everyone in Los Angeles met him at some point. And it you met him, you had a story to share.

You loved people, though I didn’t always like you and you didn’t always like me.

At spring training once, Lasorda chewed me out over something I’d written 6 months earlier. I flinched, then gave it right back to him. How else do you handle a legend?

I kinda loved the way he would step on your toes and get right in your face, an old-school paternal coach, the type they don’t seem to make anymore…the kind you had as a kid…the kind you never forget.

I admire Dave Roberts a ton, and Sean McVay as well, but they are never going to stand on your toes and spittle-spit their deepest feelings.

There was something authentic and honest in that. There was texture and conflict. He could be gritty as rawhide. Earl Weaver, Billy Martin, Tommy Lasorda. I’ll take them over analytics any day.

RIP, my cantankerous old pal.

With you, every day was Christmas.

7 thoughts on “RIP, Tommy Lasorda

  1. One day I was pulling into the Dodger Stadium parking lot on an off day to go to the gift store. I was checking in with the guard at the parking lot gate who suddenly got nervous because he said Tommy was in the car behind me and he knew Tommy would get angry if he had to wait. I ran into him once at Dodger Stadium and asked him to sign a couple things…he took the time to sign but was pissed at me because I had a couple things to sign and was fumbling a little which made him angry. I said “Tommy, I love you”, and he kind of grumbled but calmed down immediately. The last time I ran into him I was a little nervous about approaching him, but he couldn’t have been nicer or kinder, and engaging. You might not know what to expect when you ran into him, but he was a fun, and funny, guy. True blue Dodger to the end.

    Check out on You Tube what he says about what he wants on his grave stone and how he wants to have the Dodgers schedule on it…hilarious. Also check out what he says when an interviewer asks him how he felt about Dave Kingman hitting three homers in a game against the Dodgers…also hilarious. And there was nothing better than watching him go nose to nose arguing with an umpire. I’ll miss the hell out of you, Tommy. We loved you out here in Dodger land. RIP.

  2. I recall what you wrote about Tommy in 2009. A letter writer praised you thusly: Chris Erskine must have been a carpenter in a prior life. He hit the nail on the head time and again in his Nov. 30 story. Finally, someone with the nerve to expose the profane and bombastic Blue Buffoon, Tommy Lasorda.
    I agreed with what you wrote, but must say that Tommy had another side, like most of us do. He was always nice to me and would always greet Norma and I with hugs. The day I got laid off from the Times, he was one of the few people I called. “Anything I can do for you, just let me know,” he said.

    1. Hi Larry, you never knew which Tommy you were going to get. He could be so charming. I was thinking yesterday how much I hate making small talk, and guys like him have to make small talk all the time. All the awkward encounters, and people are often jittery and overwhelmed. I think it wore on him a bit. That’s very understandable to me.

      You guys doing OK? Please give Norma a hug for me. Best, Chris

  3. I knew Tommy had not been well since entering the hospital in November. But he just came home and I thought he was better. So I was shocked when my eldest son texted me that “Tommy Lasorda died Mama.” I shed a few tears (also Dodger Blue). In the 80s we lived just a couple blocks from the Lasorda family in Fullerton. I am sure their house will be a site of mass tributes from neighbors and fans. RIP Tommy! We love you and miss you SOOOO much.

  4. I’m a life long Giants fan, and I loved Tommy Lasorda. My father was an Eastern Airlines pilot, and I used to ride in the jump seat behind him on some flights when I was old enough. During one flight, the stewardess came in and told Dad Tommy was on the flight and wanted to say hi. She brought him into the cockpit and Dad shakes his hand and tells Tommy “this is my son; he’s a big Giants fan”. Tommy shakes my hand and says “that’s good, they need all the fans they can get!” I was also at the last Giants game at Candlestick Park years ago when Tommy surprised everyone by showing up and taking one last walk from the dugout to the clubhouse door in the outfield, so Giants fans could boo him one last time! We did, but with smiles and misty eyes! RIP Tommy, and thanks for the great memories!

  5. I was part of stadium club when O Malleys owned it
    True class
    Tommy was a total class act
    He loved the dodgers !
    The staff kept people away until 7th ing
    The jerks who left before the end of game missed out on Tommy’s gift !

    I’m guessing Twitter would ban Tommy as well

  6. My family is originally from Brooklyn,so of course, “dem bums” was a phrase heard around our Italian household.We moved out to California the same year the Dodgers made their move. When my youngest son was nine ,he had to have an emergency appendectomy and had to miss out on his baseball season, Mr. Lasorda autographed a baseball for him, and said he’d see him in the ‘ big leagues’ , he was so sweet to little kids!

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