The news that Tommy Lasorda has been hospitalized jolted Los Angeles Dodgers fans since the retired long-time manager is one of the few remaining figures linking great teams of last century with the squad that just won the World Series for the first time since 1988.
Lasorda, 93, was reported on Monday to be resting comfortably in the intensive care unit. Wishes for a speedy recovery were pouring in from all over for Lasorda, one of the notable characters in the game while managing the Dodgers for parts of 21 seasons.
This has been a sad year for baseball
When two-time National League MVP Joe Morgan died on Oct. 11, 2020, at the age of 77, he joined a list of Hall of Fame players who have passed away this year, including Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Whitey Ford, Al Kaline, and Lou Brock. Morgan was the linchpin of the Cincinnati Reds’ near-dynasty right around the time Tommy Lasorda was taking the helm of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977.
Lasorda went on to manage for parts of 21 seasons and racked up two World Series championships, two additional NL pennants, and four more division titles. He came to be known for more than just his 1,599 managerial victories, however. In an era in which MLB was still competing for attention successfully against the NFL and NBA, Lasorda was a gregarious personality, needling opposing players on the field and dining with celebrities off of it.
And in the hours between afternoon games and evening dinners, Lasorda was a writer’s dream – a guy who could deliver a quote to spice up the story of even a mundane game. As a manager, though, he was at his best – or perhaps his worst? – after a gut-wrenching loss. The downside for reporters was that some of his best rants contained so much profanity that they couldn’t be printed.
They were recorded, however. His words live on via YouTube and other outlets.
Tommy Lasorda flipped out over Dave Kingman’s three home runs
Los Angeles radio reporter Paul Olden wasn’t trying to set off manager Tommy Lasorda. In retrospect, however, he would admit to the Los Angeles Times that perhaps he should have phrased his question differently.
Minutes after the Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 10-7, on May 14, 1978, Olden asked Lasorda his opinion of the three home runs by Dave Kingman. It turned into the second-greatest rant of Lasorda’s career.
“What’s my opinion of Kingman’s performance? What the (expletive) do you think my opinion is of it? I think it was (expletive). Put that in. I don’t (expletive) care,” Lasorda began.
“What’s my opinion of his performance? (Expletive.) He beat us with three (expletive) home runs. What the (expletive) do you mean, ‘What is my opinion of his performance?’ How can you ask me a question like that?
“What is my opinion of his performance. (Expletive.) He hit three home runs. (Expletive.) I’m (expletive) off to lose a (expletive) game, and you ask me my opinion of his performance? I mean that’s a tough question to ask me, ‘What is my opinion of his performance?’”
You can try looking it up to confirm, but it does not appear that Lasorda was quoting from the works of William Shakespeare.
Tommy Lasorda offered a ride to Kurt Bevacqua
On June 30, 1982, Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Tom Niedenfuer hit San Diego Padres batter Joe Lefebvre in the head with an 0-2 pitch moments after surrendering a home run. Padres player Kurt Bevacqua regarded it as an intentional act and charged the field.
“Sending a message” after surrendering a home run is typically done with the very next pitch rather than after working an 0-2 count. Niedenfuer likely did not have nefarious intentions.
A reporter asked Lasorda about Bevacqua’s accusation that the pitch was intentional. His answer, courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune, was more vintage Lasorda.
“I’ll tell you what I think about it. I think that is very, very bad for that man to make an accusation like that. That is terrible,” he started. “I have never, ever, since I managed, ever told a pitcher to throw at anybody, nor will I ever. And if I ever did, I certainly wouldn’t make him throw at a (expletive) .130 hitter like Lefebvre or (expletive) Bevacqua, who couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a (expletive) boat.
“And I guaran-(expletive)-tee you this. When I pitched and I was going to pitch against a (expletive) team that had guys on it like Bevacqua, I sent a (expletive) limousine to get the (expletive) to make sure he was in the (expletive) lineup because I kicked that (expletive’s) (expletive) any day of the week. He’s an (expletive) (expletive) big mouth, I’ll tell you that.”