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Lasorda, who was known for ‘bad but lovable’ attitude, was rushed to the hospital after experiencing cardiopulmonary arrest. According to the Dodgers, he was 93 at the time of his death at 10:57 p.m. PST. (Photo : Harry How/Getty Images))
True-blue Los Angeles Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda passed away at his home on Thursday night, the organization reported.
Lasorda, who was known for a ‘bad but lovable’ attitude, was rushed to the hospital after experiencing cardiopulmonary arrest. According to the Dodgers, he was 93 at the time of his death at 10:57 p.m. PST.
Lasorda’s legacy to Dodgers-Giants rivalry
Boring – that’s one word to describe the rivalry between Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants if there is no ‘waving’ Bulldog to tease the booing Giants’ crowd.
During the two teams’ epic rivalry stint, Giants’ fans can be seen with their red-hot faces and smoking noses upon Lasorda’s entrance.
The Dodgers’ pitcher back then, being a ‘villain’ due to his loud attitude, would send kisses to the crowd only to annoy the Giants’ supporters. It became a message to fans that Lasorda and the Dodgers were always one step ahead of the Giants.
Former marketing director Pat Gallagher recalled how their fans reacted upon seeing Lasorda coming out from the dugout to the arena.
“He got such a kick out of it, and it was a great show. He made people boo him harder. He waited until close to game time for the full effect. He certainly wasn’t going out there early,” Gallagher said, then added that Lasorda was more famous than their mascot Crazy Crab.
During Lasorda’s time as the Dodgers’ manager, the Los Angeles-bound team became successful in hauling multiple titles. The Dodgers savored four National League pennants in two consecutive decades, 1970 and 1980, and two World Series titles, according to Deadline.
Philadelphia Phillies signed the undrafted free agent Lasorda to their team in 1945. “Bulldog” carved out a hard-earned career through the Canadian-American league before the Brooklyn Dodgers acquired him from the Phillies. In the Dodgers’ turf, he was sent to the International League for further evaluation.
In 1954, Lasorda debuted in his first major league baseball match, but he was never a starter until 1955. He was waived by the Dodgers to Kansas City Athletics a year later. He was then swapped for Wally Burnette by the New York Yankees until he returned to the Dodgers again.
Lasorda’s journey was a difficult one – a seven-decade long struggle. In the end, he was still embraced by the team who sold him. His legacy, as he always says, “a bleeding Dodger blue,” is what keeps him from being loved by his fans and his haters.
Former Giants pitcher John Montefusco recollected when he became friends with the “Bulldog” after their baseball careers. The 70-year-old native from New Jersey knew that Lasorda’s passing was a day for the MLB enthusiasts.
Moreover, Montefusco continued that he knew how Lasorda hated him so much. But, what makes him different from the others was his attitude of never giving up. Montefusco admitted that when it comes to showmanship, Lasorda was way better than him.
In a report by NBC News, Lasorda, who was a perennial Dodger for 71 seasons, was believed to be the most famous ambassador in the world of baseball in a statement released by the organization.
The rivalry hardened after the Dodgers kicked the Giants in the playoff contention. But the Giants still had one game left after the season ended.
The Giants, who had no reason to fight after their failed playoff entry, reversed the Dodgers’ fate at 5-3. Joe Morgan broke Lasorda’s playoff dream with an iconic homer, and the Giants’ fans’ glee was beyond indescribable after the Dodgers’ fall.
They may not have entered the playoffs, but it was a relief that the Atlanta Braves were the division winners instead of the Dodgers.
Bill Laskey, another pitcher from 1982 in the Giants team, narrated that their fans rejoiced as if they won the championship. It was a historic moment for them – and the Dodgers.
Many despised Lasorda for being a hard-headed player, and one of them was former pitcher Mike Krukow. After being traded to San Francisco, the current Giants announcer thought of only one thing in his mind – to kick Lasorda’s ego out of the game.
Krukow said that he was embarrassed by Lasorda, who said that he could be a good pitcher if only he knew how to work through his game. Years later, he now considered the rival’s trademark as an inspiration to never quit in the game.
It even came to a time when several kazoos were distributed to the Giants’ fans for the sole purpose of being used when Lasorda and the Dodgers marched onto the field.
Lasorda may have appeared as an antagonist to others, but his impactful remembrance of the tightest MLB rivalry is commendable.
According to ESPN 5, the Dodgers will remember Lasorda as their manager, who made a World Series win possible again after 32 years.
Here is a tribute video made by the Dodgers for Lasorda.
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