Tommy Lasorda, the eternally optimistic Hall of Famer who managed the Los Angeles Dodgers for 20 seasons and led them to two World Series titles, is getting a fitting tribute this weekend.
The LAX pylons are drenched in Dodger blue and white as the city continues to mourn Lasorda, who died Thursday at age 93. The honor is being shared with longtime City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who also died Thursday, at age 67.
On Friday, airport officials announced plans for the weekend tribute to the two Los Angeles icons. In addition, L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez announced that she and Mayor Eric Garcetti have called for City Hall to be lit through the weekend “in white for eternal peace and Dodger blue in honor of two of Los Angeles' greatest champions and supporters, former Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge and Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda.”
Lasorda, long hailed as one of the most colorful figures in baseball, suffered a sudden cardiopulmonary arrest at his home just after 10 p.m. Thursday and was taken to a hospital “with resuscitation in progress,” according to the Dodgers. He was pronounced dead at 10:57 p.m.
Lasorda had just been released Tuesday from an Orange County hospital, where he spent about six weeks. He was hospitalized in November, shortly after attending the Dodgers' World Series-clinching victory in Arlington, Texas.
No official reason for the hospitalization was ever provided, although TMZ reported that he was suffering from heart issues and spent time on a ventilator in an intensive-care unit.
Lasorda was released from the ICU in early December, but remained hospitalized.
A Hall of Famer since 1997, Lasorda led the Dodgers to two World Series championships and two World Series losses during his 20-year managerial career.
The Fullerton resident was with the Dodgers organization for more than 70 years as a player, scout, manager and front office executive. He was originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1945, before reaching the big leagues as a pitcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954.
He managed the Dodgers from 1976-96, and was serving as a special adviser to the chairman at the time of his death.
“My family, my partners and I were blessed to have spent a lot of time with Tommy,” Mark Walter, Dodgers owner/chairman, said. “He was a great ambassador for the team and baseball and a mentor to players and coaches. He always had time for an autograph and a story for his many fans and he was a good friend. He will be dearly missed.”
Stan Kasten, team president/CEO, added, “In a franchise that has celebrated such great legends of the game, no one who wore the uniform embodied the Dodger spirit as much as Tommy Lasorda.”
“A tireless spokesman for baseball, his dedication to the sport and the team he loved was unmatched. He was a champion who at critical moments seemingly willed his teams to victory. The Dodgers and their fans will miss him terribly. Tommy is quite simply irreplaceable and unforgettable.”
Praised as one of baseball's greatest ambassadors and known as one of the sport's great interviews, Lasorda was a ubiquitous media presence during his managing days and made multiple appearances on television shows, often playing himself.
His Dodger teams reached the World Series four times and frequently knocked on the door in other seasons, winning division titles in 1983, 1985 and 1995 and missing the playoffs by a single game in 1980 and 1982.