Fullerton pays tribute to Dodgers legend with Tommy Lasorda Day

Source: Orange County Register

On the day that would have been legendary Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda’s 94th birthday, the city he called home for closed to seven decades celebrated the Hall of Famer with a day of festivities and tributes.

City leaders declared Wednesday, Sept. 22, as Tommy Lasorda Day in the city of Fullerton.

Notables on hand for the tribute included former Dodger catcher and two-time All-Star Mike Scioscia, who played for Lasorda on two World Series winning teams before going on to manage the Angels to a World Series championship in 2002.

“Tommy was the most competitive person I ever met in my life,” said Scioscia, who signed with the Dodgers in 1976. “I think that anyone who played for him felt the same way, but that is what it took for us to become world champions and he knew it and he instilled it in all of us. He made us better baseball players, but most important, made us better men.”

Former Dodger first baseman and 1992 National League Rookie of the Year Eric Karros also participated in the city’s event, as did Ann Myers Drysdale, widow of Dodgers Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale.

Karros said he and Lasorda became closer in the times they spent together after the first baseman retired.

“Everything he touched, he was all in,” Karros said. “Off the baseball field, people don’t realize the impression he made, the people that he touched. I’m forever grateful that I was able to cross paths with Tommy Lasorda.”

Festivities kicked off Wednesday with a signing ceremony declaring the Italian city of Tollo, hometown of Lasorda’s family, as Fullerton’s sister city. An olive tree was planted in a garden outside City Hall to symbolize to new relationship.

The tribute continued later on the baseball diamond at Fullerton’s historic Amerige Park, where Hall of Fame legends Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson, a Fullerton Union High School graduate, once played.

Also remembered throughout the day was Jo Lasorda, Tommy Lasorda’s wife of 70 years, who died Monday in her Fullerton home at age 91.

Speakers offered condolences to the couple’s daughter, Laura Lasorda, who was in attendance. Lasorda’s son, Tommy Jr., died in 1991 at age 33.

“We all knew who the rock of the Lasorda family was, and that was Jo Lasorda,” Scioscia said. “We can take solace in the fact that her and Tommy are up there smiling and dancing and looking down on us and saying, ‘What a great event.’”

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, a lifelong Fullerton resident, recalled Tommy Lasorda’s multiple visits to Nicolas Junior High School in the 1970s, when she attended school there.

Quirk-Silva has also led an effort to name a section of a Los Angeles freeway as the “Tommy Lasorda Memorial Highway.”

Other tributes included a viewing of the video, “Italian/American Baseball Families,” which was shown at the Fullerton Community Center. Lasorda was interviewed for the documentary.

An exhibition baseball game between the Sunny Hills and Fullerton Union high school teams, as well as games featuring players from Golden Hills Little League were played to end the day.