NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) — Thomas Charles Lasorda, the former professional baseball player, coach and longtime manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, known for his frank candor and fiery temper, died on January 7th. He was 93.
Lasorda was hospitalized in November with serious heart problems and spent a month in the hospital before he was released on January 5th. However, he suffered a serious cardiac arrest at his home two days later and was transported to the hospital again where he was pronounced dead, according to the New York Post.
Hailing from Pennsylvania, Lasorda signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1945 as an undrafted free agent and played for the team’s minor league affiliate the Concord Weavers for a season before he was drafted into the U.S Army for a two-year hitch.
In 1949, after completing his military obligation, he returned to baseball and was drafted once again, this time by the Brookyln Dodgers.
Lasorda played for several minor league teams affiliated with the Dodgers, including the Greenville Spinners and the Montreal Royals for several years before making his major league debut with the Dodgers in 1954. However, it was an undistinguished turn on the mound, marked by wild pitches and resulted in him being sent back to the minors after just one game.
He continued in the minors for several years, playing for affiliates of the Kansas City Athletics, and New York Yankees before returning to the Montreal Royals where he ultimately made a name for himself as the most successful pitcher in the team’s history.
He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006, despite having only played in 4 major league games during his career.
In 1960, he was named manager of the Pocatello Chiefs and then caught on with the Dodgers, managing several minor league affiliates for the team before being called up to serve as third base coach for the major league ball club.
In 1976, following the retirement of Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston, he stepped into the role of manager for the team, a position he would hold for the next two decades.
During his tenure, he amassed a 1,599–1,439 record, including two World Series championships, four National League pennants, and eight division titles over a 20-year span.
He announced his retirement on July 29th, a little over a month after suffering a heart attack but was named as the team’s Vice President and two years later, interim General Manager after the firing of Fred Claire following News Corp’s takeover of the team in 1997.
Lasorda was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager in 1997.
Lasorda was also known for his effusive and outspoken opinions (read profanity-laden tirades) on the game of baseball and the sport’s players. In 1978, he was caught on tape by reporters unloading on Chicago Cubs pitcher Dave Kingman after Kingman scored three consecutive home runs against the Dodgers during a game.
Another notorious Lasorda diatribe came in 1982, after Padres infielder Kirk Bevacqua accused Lasorda of calling on the Dodgers pitcher Tom Niedenfeur to intentionally hit fellow Padre Joe Lefebvre with a pitch, describing Lasorda as that ‘fat little Italian.’
When reporters asked Lasorda about Bevacqua’s comment, he replied: “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. I have never ever since I’ve 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 fucking .130 hitter like Lefebvre or fucking Bevacqua, who couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a fucking boat. And I guaran-fucking-tee you this, when I pitched, and I was going to pitch against a fucking team that had guys on it like Bevacqua, I’d send a fucking limousine to get the cock sucker to make sure he was in the mother fucking line-up because I’d kick that cock sucker’s ass any fucking day of the week. He’s a fucking mother fucking big mouth; I’ll tell you that.”