Tommy Lasorda -- yes, that Tommy Lasorda -- once threw a 15-inning complete game
Tommy Lasorda once threw a 15-inning complete game
But before he was any of that, he was just Tommy Lasorda, a young, undrafted left-hander trying to work his way to the Show, signed to the Phillies affiliate in the now-defunct Can-Am league. It would be quite some time before America knew his name, but on this day 67 years ago, Lasorda put his stamp on one of the most unique starts in the history of the game: a complete game, 15-inning win over the Amsterdam Rugmakers (yes, really, and stop laughing), in which he struck out 25 batters and, oh by the way, knocked in the game-winning run.
What's that? You demand more preposterous numbers? Well then: Lasorda walked 12 and hit a batter on the day, giving up 10 hits and five runs over the course of his 15 innings of work (which, really, produces respectable rate stats if you do the math, but that's no fun). And if you happen to be of the "when men were men" school of pitch count philosophy, you'll surely be pleased to learn that, according to Lasorda, he and Bobby Valentine once tried to estimate how many pitches were thrown, and landed at somewhere around 300. Uphill both ways, presumably.
The effort was almost for nought, though, as the Rugmakers broke a 3-3 tie in the 12th with two runs off of Lasorda. But the Schenectady Blue Jays batsmen had his back, blasting two home runs -- one inside-the-park, one outside it -- to even the score. Things would remain deadlocked until the 15th, when Lasorda singled home the winning run to finally send everybody home.
Lasorda set what was then a single-game record for strikeouts, and it held for all over four years, until a fellow Minor Leaguer named Ron Necciai came along and broke it in nine innings. (Necciai sat down all 27 batters he faced in one of the greatest pitching performances you've never heard of.) Just remember that the next time you casually crack wise about him getting knocked over by Vlad Guerrero's bat at the 2001 All-Star Game: Tommy Lasorda's left arm is made of Adamantium, and he could still definitely take you on.