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Tommy Lasorda - Olympic Gold

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In May, 2000, four years into his new job as a vice president for the Dodgers, Lasorda was called on to manage the U.S. Olympic baseball team at the Olympic games in Sydney, Australia. "Being selected to manage the U. S. Olympic team is a great privilege and honor; it's bigger than the World Series," he told USA Today's Mike Dodd on the occasion. "It's bigger than the Dodgers, bigger than Major League Baseball, because it's the United States of America. It's your country."

Chronology

1927 Born on September 22 in Norristown, Pennsylvania
1946 Serves in the U.S. Army
1948 Becomes a professional baseball player in the minor leagues
1940s Marries wife Jo
1954 Makes major league debut as a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers
1956 Plays in the major leagues a final season, pitching for the Kansas City Athletics
1961 Becomes a talent scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers
1965 Becomes a manager in the minor leagues
1977 Becomes manager of the Dodgers
1996 Retires from managing the Dodgers, becomes Dodgers vice president
2000 Selected to manage the U. S. Olympic baseball team

Chosen from among minor league players from around the United States, the members of the U. S. Olympic team would not even be brought together as a team until just a month before they played. "Wish it was like it used to be," Lasorda told Dodd, "here you went around the country playing some games. I want to show the country, let them see these guys. I want to show my team off."

Instead, Lasorda told Dodd, "September the first, I will meet with the players and that'll be the first time I've seen these guys in person. September the second, we board a plane for Brisbane.… I'm only going to have eight or nine (exhibition) games to know what they can do. It's not going to be easy."

Nevertheless, the American baseball team took home the gold in 2000 in a stunning 4-0 defeat of the favored Cuban team. Lasorda described his reaction to the victory to Bill Conlin in the Sunday Mail: " bawled like a baby. I was just so thrilled for these young men and what they accomplished. I told my wife before I left home, 'Fifty years from now, I'm gonna be a trivia question. The question will be: Name the only man in history to manage both a World Series team and an Olympic gold medal winner. I'm gonna be the answer to that question.'"

Career Statistics

Yr Team W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R BB SO
BRK: Brooklyn Dodgers; KC: Kansas City Athletics.
1954 BRK 0 0 5.00 0 0 0 9 8 5 5 5
1955 BRK 0 0 13.50 1 0 0 4 5 6 6 4
1956 KC 0 4 6.15 5 0 0 45.1 40 31 45 28

Awards and Accomplishments

1981, 1988 As manager, led Los Angeles Dodgers to victory in World Series
1988 Named National League Manager of the Year honors (with Jim Leyland)
1997 Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame
2000 As manager, led U.S. Olympic baseball team to gold medal victory

Where Is He Now?

After leading his team to a gold medal at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Australia, Lasorda returned to his duties as vice president at the Los Angeles Dodgers. He manages the team's public relations efforts and scouting activities, and helps to develop the organization's minor league teams.

Lasorda also acts as something of an ambassador for the sport. The close of 2002 saw him in Japan for the ninth time to scout for players and help Japanese players play the game right. "I'm a consultant, scout, general manager and a teacher all rolled into one," he said to Bill Gallo of the Daily News about his activities in Japan.

At home in the United States, Lasorda also spends time seeking to motivate young people to realize their full potential, not just in the area of sports, but in every aspect of their lives. "If you make up your mind what you want to be, you can be it," he told a group of youths in Omaha in the spring of 2002, wrote Cliff Brunt in the Omaha World-Herald. "All you have to do is pay the price. Nobody's going to hand it to you."

It was a fitting finish to a long and illustrious managing career for Lasorda. As for what the future might bring for him, he gave this hint to Woodburn: "I'll do everything I can to make baseball better. I love to go around this great country of ours, and around the world, and spread the word of baseball." Lasorda spoke with pride of his 46-year association with the Dodgers organization, and of his 45-year marriage to wife, Jo.

Tommy Lasorda - Chronology [next] [back] Tommy Lasorda - An Outstanding Manager

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