MLB

Hall of Fame manager Lasorda dies at 93

By Sports Desk January 08, 2021

Tommy Lasorda, who led the Los Angeles Dodgers to two World Series titles and became one of the franchise's most beloved and iconic figures, died on Thursday at the age of 93. 

The Dodgers announced Lasorda's death on Friday in a statement. According to the team, he suffered a sudden heart attack on Thursday, just two days after being released from a long hospital stay. 

Lasorda spent 71 years with the Dodgers organisation as a player, scout, coach, manager and front office executive. He retired from managing in 1996 after a 21-year run highlighted by World Series championships in 1981 and 1988. 

"In a franchise that celebrated such great legends of the game, no one who wore the uniform embodied the Dodger spirit as much as Tommy Lasorda," team president and CEO Stan Kasten said in a statement. "A tireless spokesman for baseball, his dedication to the sport and the team he loved was unmatched. He was a champion who at critical moments seemingly willed his team to victory. The Dodgers and their fans will miss him terribly. 

"Tommy is quite simply irreplaceable and unforgettable."

Lasorda had a short major-league career as a left-handed pitcher with the Dodgers and Kansas City Athletics from 1954-56 before retiring as a player in 1960 and joining the Dodgers as a scout the following year. He later managed several of the organisation’s minor league teams before being promoted to serve as the major league club's bench coach under Hall of Famer Walter Alston in 1973. 

He took over managerial duties following Alston's retirement near the end of the 1976 season and began one of the longest tenures with one team in major league history. He is one of only four skippers, along with Alston and Hall of Famers Connie Mack and John McGraw, to manage the same team for 20 consecutive seasons or more. 

A two-time National League Manager of the Year, Lasorda compiled a 1,599-1,439 overall record and led the Dodgers to seven National League West titles and eight playoff appearances while reaching the World Series four times. He later guided the United States to a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. 

Lasorda moved into a role as the Dodgers' vice president following his retirement in 1996 and was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. He had served as a special advisor to the team since 2004 and was present at Texas' Globe Life Field for the Dodgers' Game 6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in October that clinched the franchise's first World Series title since his 1988 squad. 

"It feels appropriate that in his final months, he saw his beloved Dodgers win the World Series for the first time since his 1998 team," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest sympathy to his wife of 70 years, Jo, and their entire family, the Dodger organisation and their generations of loyal fans."

Lasorda had been plagued by health issues in recent years. A heart attack led to his retirement from managing in 1996 and he suffered another in 2012. He was admitted to a California hospital with heart-related problems in November and spent several weeks in intensive care before being released earlier this week.  

A native of Norristown, Pennsylvania, Lasorda is survived by his wife, Jo; his daughter, Laura and one granddaughter.

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