The world of baseball is in mourning. Tommy Lasorda, former manager of Los angeles dodgers, died at 93 years old. Besides being a mythical element of the Los Angeles team, he was mentor of one of the best players of the institution, the Mexican Fernando “Toro” Valenzuela.
His death was on the night of Thursday, January 7, due to a cardiopulmonary arrest in his house. Although he was transferred to a hospital for care, he died in the hospital at 22:57 hours. The news was confirmed by the team through its Twitter account, in which it highlighted the seven decades spent in the organization, where he became one of the most important personalities in baseball history.
The career of Lasorda, who was born on September 22, 1927, began as a pitcher at age 18, but “I didn’t have much skill”, recognized in 1997. Later it became headhunter and then built a career like Dodgers manager since 1976, position in which he got a couple of World Series championships, in 1981 and in 1988.
After 20 seasons he retired as manager of the Dodgers in 1996, but the following year he was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame and his number 2 was removed from the team so no one else would wear it. In addition, he never completely separated from the sport. In 2000 he led the US team to the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in which they beat the Cuban team.
Throughout his life he received numerous awards. In 2008, for example, he received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette from the Japanese Ambassador, while in 2009, his portrait was hung in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution.
In November, the Dodgers announced that the former coach had been released from the hospital after suffering a severe episode of an undisclosed illness. Despite this, they noted that he was “resting comfortably” at his home in Orange County, California.
“Tommy Lasorda was one of the best coaches our game has ever known. He loved life as a Dodger (…) His passion, success, charisma and sense of humor made him an international celebrity, a stature he used to make our sport grow. Tommy made baseball just another game strong, diverse and better”Commented Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Although as a player he did not have a prominent role, As a manager he achieved fame and fortune in baseball that even he hadn’t expected. From his participation in the Rookie League, he learned to polish his motivational skills, which were fundamental to teach raw talents how to play and win.
One of the most relevant characters in Lasorda’s history as a coach is the Mexican Fernando “Toro” Valenzuela, because it was precisely he who gave her his first chance in the majors.
El Toro was signed by the Los Angeles team in June 1979 and debuted in September 1980, when he entered as a relief against the Atlanta Braves. Although in that season he only had 10 appearances, his good performances were filling Lasorda’s eye until he convinced to open the doors to success.
For the 1981 season, the Dodgers suffered from several injuries, which made it possible that on April 9, the day of the opening game against the Houston Astros, Lasorda saw in Valenzuela the perfect replacement for Jerry Reuss, who had injured his calf.
That day the Bull won the match with five hits allowed and five strikeouts, as well marked the beginning of Fernandomania and of a splendid relationship between Tommy Lasorda and Valenzuela.
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