The baseball world and Los Angeles community paid tribute Friday to legendary Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda, hailing him as a larger-than-life personality and endless advocate for the game he loved.
“Tommy Lasorda was one of the finest managers our game has ever known,” Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “He loved life as a Dodger. His career began as a pitcher in 1949 but he is, of course, best known as the manager of two World Series champions and four pennant-winning clubs. His passion, success, charisma and sense of humor turned him into an international celebrity, a stature that he used to grow our sport.
“Tommy welcomed Dodger players from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere — making baseball a stronger, more diverse and better game,” Manfred said. “He served Major League Baseball as the Global Ambassador for the first two editions of the World Baseball Classic and managed Team USA to gold in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Tommy loved family, the United States, the National Pastime and the Dodgers, and he made them all proud during a memorable baseball life.”
Lasorda died Thursday night at age 93.
Los Angeles Lakers legend and Dodger part-owner Magic Johnson said he sat next to Lasorda for the past eight years, learning “invaluable lessons on the strategy and history of baseball.”
“I will miss our conversations about the Dodgers and the Lakers,” Johnson said. “He meant the world to the Dodgers organization, MLB and to the city of Los Angeles. He will always be known to Dodger Nation as `Mr. Dodger.’ Cookie and I are praying for the entire Lasorda family.”
Comedian and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel wrote on Twitter, “No one loved anything more than Tommy Lasorda loved the Dodgers. It was a thrill to know him. Sending love to his family, friends, players and fans.”
Actor Henry Winkler also offered his best wishes, writing, “Goodbye Tommy. You were an ambassador for baseball, our city and for humanity. You were never without your warm smile and enthusiasm. Your spirit will be missed here on Earth.”