‘We’re going to miss him dearly:’ Tommy Lasorda’s presence felt as Los Angeles Dodgers continue hot start
LOS ANGELES — Everywhere you looked Saturday evening, there was Tommy Lasorda at Dodger Stadium.
He was in the stands with legions of fans wearing Lasorda jerseys.
He was on the videoboard giving speeches, yelling at umpires, with tributes from Los Angeles Dodgers greats telling their favorite Lasorda stories.
There was Lasorda on the videoboard singing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,’’ from a spring-training gathering.
The Dodgers spent the game honoring Lasorda, their Hall of Fame manager who died three months ago at the age of 93, and made sure he was pounding his chest with pride from high above with a 9-5 victory against the Washington Nationals.
Dodger players reflect on their most memorable Tommy Lasorda story. pic.twitter.com/FgftIiEN9a
“What they did before the game with Tommy,’’ Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “it kind of continues to bring him to life, remembering him, the good times. …Definitely, tonight’s game was certainly special.’’
The Dodgers, 7-2, who have the best record in baseball, may have Lasorda on their mind all season, knowing he’ll always be a part of them.
“We’re going to miss him dearly,’’ said Dodgers All-Star third baseman Justin Turner, who had two doubles and is hitting .412 this season, “but we’re never going to forget Tommy Lasorda.’’
Really, how could you?
“Tommy did it his way,’’ said Bobby Valentine, whose close relationship began with Lasorda while playing in the minor leagues, “in living and dying.’’
Valentine, in an interview Saturday with USA TODAY Sports from his Stamford, Connecticut, home, emotionally talked about the final evening he spent with Lasorda.
It was the night of Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas, and they were watching the final ballgame of Lasorda’s life.
Lasorda, knowing the end was near, wanted to see the Dodgers one last time, trying to win their first World Series since Lasorda still was manager in 1988.
Lasorda kept pushing to watch the World Series in its entirety, but couldn’t get clearance from his doctors or family. Finally, with the help of close friend Warren Lichenstein and Valentine, they came up with a plan.
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