Longtime LA Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda retired with a divisive legacy.
Few, if any, can dispute Lasorda’s on-field accolades. Lasorda won nearly 1,600 games and two World Series championships with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But, the National Baseball Hall of Fame manager had an abrasive and combative personality. Lasorda’s complicated relationship with his son, Tom Jr., has also given people reason to be frustrated with the Dodgers icon.
Tommy Lasorda is a LA Dodgers legend
A pitcher who had a 6.48 ERA in 26 career games from 1954-56, Tommy Lasorda is best known for his managerial career.
Lasorda went 1,599-1,439-2 from 1976-96, every season coming with the Dodgers. Lasorda won four pennants in that time and two World Series championships.
The second of those championships, in 1988, is best known for Kirk Gibson’s game-winning home run in Game 1. Before this year, that was the last time the Dodgers won a World Series.
Lasorda retired midway through the 1996 season after he had a heart attack.
The Veterans Committee inducted Lasorda into the Hall of Fame in 1997. He later managed the American baseball team to a gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
Tommy Lasorda had a very combative style
Tommy Lasorda and his temper created one of the greatest characters in modern baseball history.
No one was safe from Lasorda’s wrath. Umpires, other managers, and bases were subject to being shouted at and insulted — and in the bases’ case, hurled elsewhere.
Lasorda even fought mascots. Umpires tossed Youppi!, the Montreal Expos’ mascot, from a 1989 game when Lasorda complained about the mascot’s antics.
Luckily for fans still in attendance, Youppi! returned to the game, a 1-0 Expos loss in 22 innings.
Lasorda had a complicated relationship with his son
Tommy Lasorda was recently brought to the intensive care unit at a hospital in Orange County, Calf.
The Dodgers tweeted that Lasorda is “resting comfortably.”
When news of Lasorda’s health problems broke, some on social media quickly brought up the manager’s relationship with his late son.
Tom Lasorda Jr. befriended former Dodgers outfielder Glenn Burke, who came out as gay after he retired. Dodgers teammates and coaches knew that Burke was gay during his career.
Dusty Baker, currently the Houston Astros’ manager, played with Burke on the Dodgers. Baker told ESPN in 2014 that he believed the Dodgers traded Burke because he was gay.
“I mean, I don’t know what people [are] gonna say, the reason why he was traded,” Baker said about Burke. “We know, kind of the reason he was traded, because he was gay. And … you can’t be any more blunt than that.”
The younger Lasorda died in June 1991, and the Los Angeles Times listed the cause of death from pneumonia and severe dehydration. Some have suggested that Lasorda Jr. actually died of AIDS.
Peter Richmond of GQ spoke with Lasorda Sr. in 1992. Lasorda denied his son was gay and insisted Tom Jr. instead died of pneumonia.
In the interview re-published by Deadspin, Richmond asked Lasorda if it was difficult having a gay son.
“My son wasn’t gay. No way. No way. I read that in a paper. I also read in that paper that a lady gave birth to a f—in’ monkey, too. That’s not the f—in’ truth. That’s not the truth.”
Bill Baer, a former NBC Sports baseball writer, tweeted a picture of Lasorda’s comments.
Another Twitter user called Lasorda an “a–hole” for not “accepting it and supporting his son.”
As of November 2020, Lasorda never publicly acknowledged any change of opinion on his son’s death.