(CBS Los Angeles) — Dodgers Hall of Fame great Tommy Lasorda has died, the team announced. He was 93.
The Dodgers confirmed that Lasorda passed away Thursday night after suffering a heart attack.
“Lasorda suffered a sudden cardiopulmonary arrest at his home at 10:09 p.m.,” the team said. “He was transported to the hospital with resuscitation in progress. He was pronounced dead at 10:57 p.m.”
In its statement, the team described Lasorda, who spent an incredible 71 years with the Dodgers organization, as “one of the most memorable personalities in baseball history.”
Lasorda’s accolades are astounding. He managed the Dodgers for 21 seasons from 1976 to 1996. He won two World Series titles in 1981 and 1988 and has 1,599 career wins as a manager, 22nd all time.
“There are two things about Tommy I will always remember,” Dodgers broadcasting titan Vin Scully said in a statement. “The first is his boundless enthusiasm. Tommy would get up in the morning full of beans and maintain that as long as he was with anybody else.
“The other was his determination. He was a fellow with limited ability and he pushed himself to be a very good Triple-A pitcher. He never quite had that something extra that makes a major leaguer, but it wasn’t because he didn’t try. Those are some of the things: his competitive spirit, his determination, and above all, this boundless energy and self-belief. His heart was bigger than his talent and there were no foul lines for his enthusiasm.”
Lasorda had been hospitalized in Orange County in November with an undisclosed ailment. He was in the hospital for six weeks before returning home in early January.
“For the last 8 years I’ve sat next to Tommy at every Dodgers game and he taught me invaluable lessons on the strategy and history of baseball,” Lakers great Magic Johnson tweeted.
Hall of Fame Dodgers Manager, LA icon, and my great friend Tommy Lasorda passed away late last night. For the last 8 years I’ve sat next to Tommy at every Dodgers game and he taught me invaluable lessons on the strategy and history of baseball. pic.twitter.com/6RxmoQ7Che
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 8, 2021
In late October he attended the Dodgers’ Game 6 World Championship victory in Arlington, Texas, where the Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays.
“Tommy Lasorda was one of the finest managers our game has ever know,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “He loved life as a Dodger.”
“It feels appropriate that in his final months, he saw his beloved Dodgers win the World Series for the first time since his 1988 team,” Manfred added.
The 93-year-old was known for his enthusiasm for baseball and especially the Dodgers. Lasorda found his calling as a manager after an unsuccessful 14-year stint in the minors as a pitcher.
In three major league stints, Lasorda went 0-4 in nearly a 6.5 ERA with Kansas City and the Brooklyn Dodgers who released him to make room for Sandy Koufax.
A true student of the game, Lasorda moved onto coaching after his playing days were over. In 1972, he would become the manager of the Dodgers Triple-A farm club, the Albuquerque Dukes.
There, he would win a Pacific Coast Championship in his long season, and that led Lasorda to the big leagues, joining Walter Alston’s staff, before replacing the long-time manager in 1979.
Lasorda became a leader and voice of the team. Under Lasorda, the Dodgers went to the World Series for his first two seasons, but they failed to beat the New York Yankees in both 1977 and 1978.
But things really came together in the 1981 Fall Classic when the Dodgers beat the Bronx in six games. Then, there was that magical season in 1988 – Lasorda’s greatest achievement despite most considered that his team was ill-equipped for the post-season.
After upsetting the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers were heavy underdogs against Oakland so in Game One, Olympian Kirk Gibson stepped to the plate, and history was made.
Lasorda would continue to the helm until the middle of the 1996 season when heart problems forced him out of the job he cherished.
Lasorda retired from managing, one shy from 1,600 wins and was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1997, his first year of eligibility, and that same year, the Dodgers would make sure that no one would ever wear Lasorda’s No. 2, retiring his jersey alongside other Dodger greats.
In the year 2000, Lasorda returned to managing, this time for Team USA at the Sidney Olympic Games, and as expected, answered the call for his country and led Team USA to the gold medal just three days before his 73rd birthday.
Lasorda went on to work for the Dodgers organization well into his 90s as a scout and later, special advisor, and ambassador for the game he loved and the team that so dearly loved him.
Lasorda is survived by his wife Jo, his daughter Laura and his granddaughter Emily Tess.