By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Legendary Los Angeles Dodgers manager and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Tommy Lasorda has passed away at the age of 93.
The Los Angeles Dodgers issued a statement this morning indicating that Lasorda suffered a heart attack at his home late last night. The former Dodgers skipper had just recently returned home after spending more than a month in a hospital in Southern California with heart issues.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tommy Lasorda, who was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. Not only did he have a remarkable career as a World Series-winning manager with the Los Angeles Dodgers and as a beloved baseball ambassador, he was also an outstanding pitcher with the International League’s Montreal Royals for nine seasons between 1950 and 1960. He retired as the Royals’ all-time franchise leader in wins,” reads part of a statement from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
“When he came to St. Marys for his induction ceremony in 2006, he arrived with the same kind of energy and enthusiasm that endeared him to baseball fans all over the world and he reminisced fondly about his time in Montreal. He was a true baseball legend who won’t be forgotten in Canada. We would like to express our condolences to his wife, Jo, daughter Laura and grand-daughter, Emily Tess.”
Born on September 22, 1927 in Norristown, Pa., Lasorda is best known as the colourful and beloved manager of the Dodgers, but he spent the bulk of his professional playing career in Canada. Originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies, the fiery southpaw landed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948.
Starting in 1950, Lasorda pitched a record nine seasons with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers’ International League triple-A affiliate. In 1951, he notched 12 victories – the first of six campaigns in which he registered at least 10 wins for the Royals – and helped the club to a league title. He was even better in 1953, when he recorded 17 wins and led the Royals to another championship.
After brief major league stops with Brooklyn and Kansas City and a stint in the New York Yankees organization, Lasorda returned to Montreal in 1958 to win 18 games and earn the circuit’s most valuable pitcher honours.
After a final season with the Royals in 1960, Lasorda retired as the all-time franchise leader in wins (107), games pitched (251) and innings pitched (1,461).
The charismatic Pennsylvania native would, of course, maintain his association with the Dodgers and eventually serve 21 seasons (1976 to 1996) as field boss with the club. During his reign, Lasorda’s teams captured eight division crowns and two World Series titles.
According to a Dodgers press release, Lasorda spent 71 years in their organization and has worked as a special advisor to the team’s chairman for the past 14 seasons.
Lasorda was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997 and into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
He is the eighth National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee to pass away within the last 12 months. Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Whitey Ford, Joe Morgan and Phil Niekro have also died in the past year.