Almanac Baseball: Tribute to a legend, Pride of the LA Royal Blue

It was a clear late afternoon as I reached down over the fence to the right of the visitor’s dugout , I spent a moment trying to think of the best thing to say as I recognised the shape, wearing the USA cap at an angle and the gait of a solid greying chap as he prepared his team for their latest challenge.



‘Hey mate!’ I yelled ‘You are a dead set legend and I just wanted to say G’day!’ He turned to see this Aussie leaning over the fence to give him a high five or even a hand shake.



He looked up as we locked a gaze across the typical detritus of a dugout, a few metres closing slowly as he waddled towards me, his deep blue eyes looking straight through me.



He chortled ‘Do you like Dodger Blue?’



I replied that I was a Blue Jays fan but that I had a soft spot for the old Bronx Bombers now based with all the trappings of Hollywood. I couldn’t believe that I was now in conversation with this larger than life legend who represented the Dodgers with distinction over more than six decades from being a pitcher, to a scout, to a bench coach, to being the manager for 20 years with two World Series titles and then just being Mr Baseball in the land of the summer pastime known right across the U. S. of A.



Before I knew it I was reaching down over the showground fence, shaking Tommy Lasorda’s hand and quietly and earnestly said ‘Great to meet you, baseball is better for your contribution’ acting like a shy startled and sheepish schoolboy meeting his hero. (I was in my mid-thirties at the time!) It brought back memories of the first World Series that I watched in its entirety when the Lasorda-led Dodgers took on those damm Yankees in their pinstripes back in ’81 when Ian Chappell was hosting the replays on Channel 9 throughout the night as I was trying to study (very poorly I might add) for my first Uni exams at the end of first year.



It was September 2000 and in the midst of the Olympics in Sydney, I had the chance to watch the Aussies in their green and gold caps led by David Nillson and co to take on the might of the USA (who went on to win the Gold medal against Cuba). Tommy was the star manager of a team consisting of a sprinkling of older MLB players with a mainly college-based outfit – led by this legend of all legends. I thanked him for taking the time to connect and wished him luck against the Aussies.



Tommy passed away a week or so ago; yet another amazing character who made sport interesting and captivating has passed on.



So when ever I see the Giants being smashed by the Tigers (who would have thought!) or watch a Big Bash game with Shane Watson hitting them out of the park at the Sydney showgrounds in Homebush, I am taken back to the first tenants of that facility: Baseball!



Vale Tommy Lasorda





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About Richard Marlow

a humble middle-years teacher in a “middle of the road” private school in Brisbane having being a pastor, a youth worker, a school chaplain, a bank johnnie – 3 different banks, worked in Jails, driven a cab and been in bands amongst other things.

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