FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 22, 2017
Happy birthday, Tommy Lasorda!
Historic Dodgertown celebrates today, Sept. 22, the 90th birthday of Hall of Fame Manager Tom Lasorda. Lasorda first arrived at Historic Dodgertown in 1949, the second season of the Dodgers’ Spring Training base. Through the years, the life of Tom Lasorda and Historic Dodgertown have been intertwined through many stories. Here are just a few from the early days.
March 11, 1959
Left hand pitcher Tom Lasorda predicted a pennant for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1959. Lasorda won 18 games for Montreal in 1958 and used that as his reasoning for his prediction. “When a guy who wins as many as I did (18 wins) doesn’t even get a chance to make a club it has to be a mortal lock to win it.” The Dodgers proved Lasorda right in 1959 when they won the National League pennant and the 1959 World Series.
March 28, 1962
Former Dodger pitcher and now scout Tom Lasorda was leading the Dodger minor league players in 15 minutes of exercises to get them ready for the day’s workout. In the last warm-up exercise, Lasorda said, “Now, hands on hips” and the young players followed instruction. Lasorda then surprised everyone by saying, “Now, everyone……..twist!”
The twist was a popular dance that was a national fad in 1962.
March 30, 1964
Future Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda showed his personal skills in a camp game of Dodger minor leaguers. He was a coach for the Salem club who was playing the St. Petersburg club. In the bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied, an error by a young shortstop on the Salem club allowed the winning run to score. As the winning run crossed the plate, a storm came in and it was a drencher. All the players ran off the field for cover except the young shortstop who stood there in the pouring rain. Lasorda knew the shortstop was taking the loss and the error hard and even though he was being soaked, ran out to the player. “What’s wrong?” asked Lasorda and the player said he lost the game with his error. As the rain came down in a torrent, Lasorda said, “Son, that’s not the first error you ever made, nor the last. You tried your best and that’s all anyone can ask. Go get dressed. Tomorrow will be another day.”
March 4, 1965
The Dodgers announced that former left-hand pitcher Tom Lasorda would be a first-year manager for the Pocatello club in the Pioneer League. Lasorda would be named the Dodger manager for the 1977 season, replacing Walter Alston.
February 28, 1972
Tom Lasorda, the Dodgers’ Triple-A manager for the Albuquerque Dukes, receives a present from Walter O’Malley at the start of Spring Training. Lasorda had always said he wanted his tombstone to carry the Dodgers’ schedule so if people visited his gravesite, they might want to see a game at Dodger Stadium that night. Lasorda is presented with a marble tombstone that states, “Dodger Stadium is his address, but every ballpark was his home.”
March 2, 1974
Early in Spring Training with pitchers not quite ready to pitch in intrasquad games, the Dodgers used a pitching machine to throw to hitters. This game with Dodgers on both sides was halted when the “Iron Mike” (mechanical pitcher) broke down. The game continued because Coach Tommy Lasorda volunteered to pitch for both sides and as the newspaper reported, “The Dodger coach wound up with a three-hit shutout as well as a 10-hit defeat” as Lasorda’s team defeated Coach Jim Gilliam’s team, 8-0.
March 2, 1977
New Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda proclaimed himself the greatest success since Conrad Hilton (hotel chain founder). “For years,” said Lasorda, “I changed (clothes) with six other guys in the minor league clubhouse, then the (major league) coaches room, and now I have my own suite.”
March 10, 1977
Tom Lasorda told the Los Angeles Times of his first day as the Manager of the Dodgers in Dodgertown that he walked into the coaches’ room to get dressed. Lasorda was a Dodger third base coach from 1973-1976. “Hey, wait a minute,” said Lasorda. “I’m the manager.” Lasorda was asked if he played golf in Dodgertown in Spring Training. “Golf course?” said Lasorda. “What golf course? I didn’t know there was a golf course here.”
About Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida
“A Florida Heritage Landmark”
World-famous Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida is a multi-sport, 80-acre complex on Florida’s Treasure Coast managed by former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley in a partnership since 2012. O’Malley, whose family developed and expanded the site formerly known as “Dodgertown” for nearly 50 years, partnered with his sister Terry O’Malley Seidler and former Dodger star pitchers Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo.
On November 10, 2014, Historic Dodgertown was named a Florida Heritage Landmark for its unique historic significance extending beyond baseball, as the first completely integrated Spring Training site in the South. The “Baseball and Dodgertown” historical marker is located at the entrance to the conference center.
The home of Dodger Spring Trainings from 1948-2008, it was the starting place for six World Championships and 14 N.L. Pennant-winning teams. Numerous Baseball Hall of Fame players trained on these hallowed grounds, as well as 20 visits from professional teams in Asia.
The all-inclusive facility, owned by Indian River County, gives teams of all ages the unique opportunity to train, play, dine and stay together in on-site villas. Participants utilize one of 10 ½ playing fields (seven are Musco-lighted for night games), including a new cloverleaf of youth baseball/softball fields with concessions area and new multi-purpose field (110 by 130 yards) for football, soccer and lacrosse.
Other amenities include clubhouses, two full-sized weight rooms, dining room, Stadium Club lounge and a competition-size swimming pool. The home of 6,500-seat Holman Stadium, Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida provides an all-encompassing experience for guests and is the ideal setting to build a championship team. It’s the perfect location for tournaments, camps, schools, business conferences and seminars.
Continuing its tradition since 1983, the Los Angeles Dodgers Adult Baseball Camp returned to Historic Dodgertown in November, 2014. Visit historicdodgertown.com for more information.
Ruth Ruiz, Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida, (772) 257-8532