LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The baseball world and Los Angeles community paid tribute today 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.''
Actor Mario Lopez posted several pictures of himself with Lasorda.
“Tommy's passion and success made the game of baseball charismatic, all while bleeding Dodger blue. You will definitely be missed,'' Lopez wrote.
Actor Billy Crystal posted a copy of the Dodgers' announcement of Lasorda's death and added, “There is crying in baseball.''
The SAG-AFTRA actors' union noted that Lasorda was a member of the guild since 1965.
“Tommy Lasorda was the greatest ambassador that baseball has ever had. Today we celebrate his legacy and send our condolences to the Lasorda family,'' the union stated.
Mayor Eric Garcetti called Lasorda the “face of the franchise and the soul of this city.''
“I loved watching him as a kid take our boys in blue to two WorldSeries championships and spending time with him as an adult, sitting with him in his office or visiting with him behind home plate,'' Garcetti said.
Dodger pitcher Kenley Jansen wrote, “Tommy Lasorda, this wonderful man, Hall of Famer in baseball and in life, this is him, so much joy. So much love he had for baseball, for the Dodgers. To win, to love this game, to live and play with joy was his message to us. Rest in peace in Blue Heaven, sir and thank you.''
The Angels issued a statement offering condolences to the Dodgers and the Lasorda family.
“Tommy will always be remembered for his deep love and passion forour national pastime,'' according to the Angels. “As a two-time World Series champion manager, Hall of Famer and one of the game's greatest ambassadors, his legacy will forever remain a source of pride for all Southern California baseball fans.''
The Chicago Cubs also issued a statement: “We join all of baseball in mourning the loss of @Dodgers icon Tommy Lasorda. Always a friendly face at the Confines.''
Former Dodger Jerry Hairston Jr. added, “The word Legend gets thrown around too often nowadays so that word doesn't do justice to Tommy. I take comfort knowing that he got a chance to see his beloved Dodgers win another title this past season. What an incredible man. What a life. What an ICON! Love you Tommy.''
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