LOS ANGELES -- Tommy Lasorda has been a part of the Dodgers' organization for so long that it only made sense to ring in the team's portion of home games of the World Series with him as the centerpiece of the pregame pageantry.
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Lasorda, 91, is best known for his two decades (1976-96) as the club's manager, a stretch that produced a World Series championship almost exactly 30 years ago, in '88. But Lasorda has also been affiliated with the organization long enough that it's now a record. His tenure, 69 seasons and counting, is the longest anyone has been affiliated with one particular sports team.
Lasorda, who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager in 1997, tossed the ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium before Game 3 of the World Series on Friday. He was greeted on the field by Magic Johnson, the legendary L.A. Laker who is now a part of the Dodgers' ownership team. Lasorda threw the pitch to another Dodgers legend, Steve Garvey, who part of the long-standing infield of the '80s that included Ron Cey, Bill Russell and Davey Lopes. The group played together for just short of a decade.
"Are you ready for the first Dodger victory of this World Series?" Garvey said to the crowd. Then, in unison, Garvey and Johnson delivered Vin Scully's famous line, "It's time for Dodger baseball!"
The pregame ceremony at Dodger Stadium, the hometown stadium to scores of actors and musicians who reside in Hollywood, is always a star-studded affair. It's common to spot non-sports celebrities in the prime seats behind home plate and the dugouts, and it's just as routine for many of those stars to be asked to participate on the field for pregame ceremonies throughout the postseason.
The anthem on Friday was performed by country music star Brad Paisley, winner of three Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards, 14 Academy of Country Music Awards and 14 Country Music Association Awards. Paisley also performed the anthem at Dodger Stadium in 2017, prior to Game 2.
The game ball was delivered to the mound by Isbel Sanchez, 13, a member of the Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel and a freshman at Fairgrove Academy. Sanchez delivered the game ball with Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Famer and Dodger fan Mario Lopez, an actor who is a frequent spectator at Chavez Ravine.
The special GEICO "Seats for Service" were reserved for U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Bell and his guests. Bell is a 16-year veteran of the U.S. Army. Hailing from Santa Clarita, Calif., SFC Bell enlisted in July 2002. He deployed to Afghanistan 2003-04 as a combat medic with the 1-501st PIR (at the time, PIR stood for Parachute Infantry Regiment, and it was an airborne forces regiment of the U.S. Army). Shortly thereafter, Bell began recruiting for the California Army National Guard (2006-present). He currently lives in El Segundo, Calif.
GEICO Seats for Service recognizes deserving service members with special seats at MLB stadiums across the country. Through the program, Major League Baseball and GEICO partnered to provide a ballpark experience for active duty/retired service members and military families, each week at ballparks during the regular season from May through September 2018.
Invited military (active duty, reservists, retirees) received tickets to a Major League game and were featured across GEICO and MLB media.