This Day In Dodgers History: Tommy Lasorda Retires As Manager

On July 29, 1996, Tommy Lasorda announced his retirement as Los Angeles Dodgers manager at 68 years old. He was succeeded by former shortstop of the organization’s famed infield, Bill Russell, who remained interim manager for the rest of the season.

Lasorda fought back tears as he delivered the news at Dodger Stadium. The announcement came one month after he underwent an angioplasty that was required because it was determined Lasorda had suffered a heart attack.

Lasorda thanked then-Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley and executive vice president Fred Claire for their support, and said the decision was solely his and not driven by medical reasons. Doctors had cleared Lasorda to return to the dugout and remain manager.

The Dodgers were 42-35 and held a two-game lead in the National League West when Lasorda was hospitalized. They went 14-16 under Russell and fell behind the San Diego Padres in the division standings.

Lasorda transitioned into a role as vice president and went on to maintain close ties and an active presence with the organization. While famously known as the player the Dodgers optioned to the Minors in order to sign Sandy Koufax, Lasorda carved out a successful career as manager.

During his 20 years as skipper, there were 185 managerial changes throughout Major League Baseball. Lasorda joined Connie Mack, John McGraw and Walter Alston as the only managers to reach a 20th season with one team.

Lasorda was hired to replace Alston in 1976, when he retired after 23 years as Dodgers manager.

Although his career began with the Philadelphia Phillies as an 18-year-old pitcher, Lasorda spent 47 years with the Dodgers as a player, scout, coach or manager. He finished a lifetime 1,599-1,439, won eight NL West titles, four pennants and two World Series.

Although retired from managing the Dodgers, Lasorda led the U.S.A. Baseball team to a gold medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. He then accepted an honorary role as third base coach for the NL team in the 2001 MLB All-Star Game.

It involved a scary moment that became a lighthearted one, when Vladimir Guerrero lost his bat on a swing. It flew in Lasorda’s direction and caused him to drop to the ground, but true to his fiery personality, he quickly popped back to his feet.

Lasorda has spent over 60 years of his life in baseball and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.

Tommy Lasorda memorial highway

In March 2023, a formal dedication of the Tommy Lasorda Memorial Highway was held.

The special ceremony was planned in conjunction with Opening Day for the West Fullerton Little League.

California legislature passed ACR 67 in 2021, which was a bill authored by Los Angeles and Orange County representative Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D — Fullerton).

The specific stretch is in Fullerton, where Lasorda made his home, with a Tommy Lasorda Memorial Highway sign located on Southbound I-5 before Lincoln Avenue and Northbound I-5 before Ball Road.

The dedication ceremony featured Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva, Tommy Lasorda’s daughter Laura, along with Eric Karros.
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