Now, when you look at the title of this article, you might think that I’m here to bash Tommy Lasorda, the Hall of Fame manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers that passed away on Thursday night at the age of 93. But that’s certainly not the case and in no way am I trying to disrespect his memory. It’s just that his legacy isn’t as squeaky clean as some are making it out to be and all the facts need to be out there.
It gets a little tricky when writing about public figures after they pass as we obviously want to remember and honor all of the good things. For instance, take Kobe Bryant, who passed away nearly a year ago in a helicopter crash that also killed his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others.
Now, it’s easy to write about his career with the Lakers or how much he did for women’s sports or how he was a great father. But were we supposed to just forget that he was once accused of rape, an accusation that plenty of people still believe to be true? How do you think all of the adulation he received in death made sexual assault victims feel?
The overall point is that when discussing someone’s legacy, you can’t just talk about the good stuff. The bad things have to be brought up as well. So in the case of Tommy Lasorda, yes, it’s true that he was one of the greatest managers in MLB history and a renowned ambassador for the game of baseball as a whole.
However, it simply can’t be ignored that he was friends with one of the biggest racists the sports world has ever known in former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling, although he did publicly speak out against Sterling’s comments.
In doing so, however, it can’t be ignored that Lasorda also said that he wished Sterling’s former mistress, you know, the one who recorded the comments that got Sterling banned from the NBA, would get hit by a car. And just last year, racist comments made by Tommy Lasorda himself surfaced.
So, again, we’re not looking to trample on the memory of the Dodgers legend but it’s always important to have all of the facts out there, right?
Tommy Lasorda did speak out against Donald Sterling’s racist comments
Long before Donald Sterling was given a lifetime ban from the NBA, the former Clippers owner had been accused of being a racist. He was sued twice by the government for allegedly refusing to rent apartments (he’s been in real estate for a long time) to Latinos and Blacks and longtime Clippers executive and Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor also filed a suit against him accusing him of racial discrimination.
Everything came crashing down on Sterling in April 2014 when TMZ released private recordings of him telling his mistress, V. Stiviano, to never bring Black people to Clippers games, specifically using Magic Johnson’s name. The week after Sterling was banned, Tommy Lasorda spoke with WPBF-TV in West Palm Beach, Florida, on the matter.
“I’ve been a friend of that guy’s for 30 years. It doesn’t surprise me that he said those things. And he shouldn’t have said it. He just hurt himself by talking too much and doing things he shouldn’t be doing.”Tommy Lasorda
Yes, it’s great that Tommy Lasorda denounced such atrocious behavior. But doesn’t it sound like that he knew that Donald Sterling was a racist and an awful human being? Maybe he knew and maybe he didn’t but what he said next was the real shocker.
He then said that he hoped V. Stiviano got ‘hit with a car’
So if you’re not familiar with who V. Stiviano even is, the quick story is that she worked as Donald Sterling’s “archivist,” which is why she would record some of their conversations. She often said that her relationship was platonic but the recordings proved otherwise. Stiviano, who is of Black and Mexican descent, would receive lavish gifts from Sterling, which she later had to return as part of a lawsuit filed by Sterling’s longtime wife, Shelly.
Stiviano was accused by many of leaking the tapes, which she denied, and some even labeled her the “bad guy” in the whole ordeal. Tommy Lasorda apparently wasn’t too happy with her either as in that same interview with WPBF-TV in which he discussed Sterling, he also said this about Stiviano.
“And I don’t wish that girl any bad luck but I hope she gets hit with a car.”Tommy Lasorda
Yikes. Some tried to play it off as just “Tommy being Tommy” as Lasorda has long been known to be outspoken. But that comment outraged a lot of people. Numerous outlets slammed him for his remarks and some even called for him to be fired from his Special Advisor role with the Dodgers. Now, maybe he was joking (and I always hoped that he was) but, then again, maybe he wasn’t. Lasorda obviously wasn’t removed from his position with the team but he then got himself into some more trouble a few years down the line.
Tommy Lasorda told a Dodgers fan from Korea to ‘go back there’
In July 2020, Yahoo Sports obtained a video taken two years earlier in which Tommy Lasorda, who was 90 years old at the time, told a Korean man that he should go back to his home country. As you can see in the clip above, Lasorda is all smiles when someone yells “you’re the best” at him. But his demeanor quickly changed as he singled out a fan and asked the man where he was from, to which the man replies, “Korea.” Lasorda then shockingly asks: “Why don’t you go back there?”
The person who shot the video, who requested to remain anonymous, said he waited so long to release the video because he was conflicted as he’s been a fan of the Dodgers since the 1960s. But he said that when he called the organization about the incident, he was ignored.
“When he said what he said … I was like: ‘did he just say that’?
“I was a season ticket holder at that point. When I watched the video I said, ‘oh my god I can’t believe he said that to this guy’. I never knew he was a racist.
“I showed it to a few people and they all said they had no idea that he didn’t like Korean people or people of color. I’m Mexican myself.
“I stopped being a season ticket holder after that.”Anonymous videographer of Tommy Lasorda incident involving a Korean fan
Soon after the video was released, the Dodgers did release a statement condemning Lasorda’s comments, saying that they “have no place in our society” and that his actions “do not reflect our values.”
Tommy Lasorda himself released an apology as well.
“I’m sorry for my actions, which don’t represent who I am.
“I have a love for all people worldwide and have a great respect for Koreans, who have welcomed me to their country several times.
“Some of the best players and finest people that I’ve met through baseball have been from Korea.
“I apologize to this fan and all others whom I’ve offended with this remark. I love all Dodger fans, and everyone attending games at Dodger Stadium deserves a welcoming experience.”Tommy Lasorda
Look, I really hope that Tommy Lasorda wasn’t a racist and that was just an isolated incident. But the fact remains that it did happen and it shouldn’t just be swept under the rug, especially given the state this country is in right now as far as race relations are concerned.
I’m sure some of you reading this right now are cursing me for even bringing up these things about him so soon after his passing. But, again, all the facts need to be out there when it comes to someone’s legacy, not just the ones that tell the easy story.