Saturday, January 9, 2021

Tommy Lasorda

Tommy Lasorda has passed. That news made this guy stop.

You may ask why someone who lived in New York forever and even wears a Yankees hat all the time because he's a huge fan would be so affected. 

Let me tell you a story.

Every year on CBS I used to do spring training and Vero Beach was always on our list and you know why. I'm a baseball guy so it was always a great time for me plus while most of the country was up to their ears in winter it gave me a chance to show them Hawaiian shirts, sunglasses, and shorts.

Win win.

I would wear Frank Howard's uniform because it was the only one that would fit me. In case you don't know Frank is 6 foot seven and huge and since I was, ahem, bigger then a match was made. I used to bat and pitch and field and interview Tommy.

I can still remember him saying things on the air like, "You're wearing Dodger Blue. Notice how you're standing taller, standing prouder." He was one of a kind plus he was very nice. I thought he was great.

One time I was batting against Orel Hershiser who was pitching with Mike Piazza catching. Orel said to me, "You have to hit because you're on teevee so I'll let you." He actually said that to me. Great guy also.

So there I was getting hits off of Orel Hershiser.

Mike Piazza referred to Lasorda as Uncle Tommy because he was the reason that Mike was in the bigs in the first place and playing for the Dodgers. Lasorda saw him as a very young ball player and stuck his neck out for him. I thought Tommy was his real uncle. Of course he wasn't but I didn't know that. I do know that Mike Piazza is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Great eye Tommy.

After leaving Dodgertown the next stop was Tampa spring training home of the Yankees. I tell you this story because it has always been one of my favorites. Remember I said I always wore a team uni?  I was putting on a Yankee uniform when Reggie Jackson walked by, stopped, and fiddled with my uniform for about 15 minutes till it was just right. Reggie said, "You may not be a ball player but you have to look like one." And that's why that story has been told so much.

Back to the Dodgers and Tommy.

The next day I'm on the air with Joe Torre and Yogi Berra. I always say that every now and then you see real tv. This was one of those times. Joe Torre says to me on live television, "I saw you yesterday with Tommy Lasorda and you were wearing a Dodger uniform. I was sick to my stomach."  What?! He was teasing but I didn't know that. I began to stutter and stammer as I said, "I'm sorry." Like I said every now and then...

If I coulda turned red I woulda.

Joe accepted my apology.

Tommy Lasorda was one of a kind. He was decent, kind, funny and he always said he bled Dodger Blue.
Always. I know Los Angeles is in mourning.

Rest in Peace Mister Lasorda. 

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