No love lost between Phanatic, late Lasorda
PHILADELPHIA -- Tommy Lasorda once said that he wore only three uniforms in his life: a Boy Scout uniform, a U.S. Army uniform and a Dodgers uniform.
“And I don’t want anybody degrading them,” he said.
Lasorda made that comment to the Philadelphia Daily News in July 1991, after the Phillie Phanatic’s latest run-in with the Hall of Fame manager, who died on Jan. 7 at age 93. The Phanatic loved taking shots at Lasorda, who grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown. It culminated in Aug. 1988 at Veterans Stadium, when the Phanatic took a life-sized doll wearing a Lasorda jersey onto the field. It was a standard Phanatic bit, meant to poke fun at the potbellied skipper. Lasorda, this time angered by the gimmick, darted out of the dugout, rolled the Phanatic’s four-wheeler off the field, then grabbed the effigy and beat the Phanatic with it.
The Phanatic almost lost his head as Lasorda yanked at it.
“It was hysterical, but at the time I was mortified and terrified that I was going to lose my job,” the original Phanatic, Dave Raymond, said years ago. “[Daily News columnist] Stan Hochman called us both babies in the newspaper. I told Stan, ‘I’m doing my job. I’m a professional idiot. How can you call me a baby? Tommy Lasorda is the manager of the Dodgers and he’s fighting a Muppet.’”
A reporter at the time asked Raymond if the Phanatic would consider legal action against Lasorda.
“The Phanatic would be heartbroken if it came to that and wouldn’t want to enter into any legal matters against Tommy,” Raymond said. “He wouldn’t want to sue anybody. His home is Galapagos, an island that Charles Darwin made famous. The island doesn’t even have a judicial system.”
Three years later, the Phanatic taunted Lasorda again, this time smashing a can of Ultra Slim Fast, which Lasorda promoted at the time. Tired of the schtick, Lasorda went on WIP the following morning to rip the Phanatic. In return, Phillies fans bashed Lasorda, leading him to go back on WIP before that night’s game to rip the Phanatic again.
“I don’t want to see some idiot making a spectacle of any of [my three uniforms],” Lasorda told the Daily News. “If he wants to entertain, wants to dance, wants to carry kids around, that’s great. But I don’t believe in demonstrating violence in the ballpark. And that’s what he does with the dummy.”
“He ran 25 yards out of the dugout, punching, kicking me, screaming at me,” Raymond said then. “This is the guy moaning about violence.”
Lasorda and Raymond made amends after that. It started a couple days later when Raymond brought the Lasorda doll back onto the field to the tune of the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”