Remembering Lasorda's 11 funniest moments

Rest in peace to a one-of-a-kind baseball icon

January 9th, 2021
Tom Forget /

Baseball lost one of its most devoted ambassadors to the game on Friday when Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda passed away at the age of 93. Lasorda had seen and done it all with the Dodgers -- even though his big league playing career was short and unsuccessful, he had a big hand in their success as he was cut from the big league roster to make room for some southpaw by the name of Sandy Koufax.

As manager, he won 1,599 games and two World Series titles. When his managing career was over, he stayed on with the Dodgers and could be found in his seat by the dugout almost every night. He had a larger-than-life personality, too -- one that was perfect for the city, for the sport, and one that kept the heat and attention on him and not the players, something most of his teams loved about him.

To remember his life without highlighting some of the antics that made him famous -- his rants and outbursts, his vendetta against mascots, his outrageous stories -- would be to ignore one of the reasons he was so beloved around the game.

So, today, to honor Lasorda's legacy, here are 11 of those moments.

1. The Anti-Phanatic

The Dodgers don't have a mascot. And while we can't say it's solely because of Lasorda, you can guess that any discussion would have been shot down quickly by the skipper.

Why? He hated them.

Lots of players fight with the Phillie Phanatic. It's kind of the green dude's schtick. But most of the time, it's because everyone is in on the gag. It's fun to see a player steal his cart or engage in some playful fisticuffs. That was not Lasorda's style.

On Aug. 28, 1988, the Phillie Phanatic dressed up a dummy in a Lasorda uniform. Tommy was not pleased.

So, Lasorda took the Phanatic's vehicle and just as it looked to be over, Lasorda turned and raced after the Phanatic. He ripped the doll from the Phanatic's fuzzy green mitts and then proceeded to beat him with it. It was, honestly, the kind of thing you'll only ever see once on a ballfield.

As Lasorda told Comcast in 2015 -- nearly 30 years after the event and with his anger not at all abated -- "I was always upset about him always taking my shirt and putting it on some dummy and then running over it. I didn't particularly like that, and I told him. I said, 'I don't want you to do that anymore.' The next time I saw him he still put my shirt on, so I went after him and I bopped him down a little bit. And I said, 'If there weren't all these people here I'd really rip ya.'"

But that doesn't even compare to what he did the next year.

2. Lasorda gets Youppi ejected

Lasorda knew a thing or two about getting ejected. Anyone who could rant and rave the way he did was going to get run -- 43 times to be exact. But on Aug. 23, 1989, the Dodgers and Expos teamed up for a 22-inning game that Los Angeles won thanks to a Rick Dempsey home run in the top of the 22nd.

Few remember that home run, though, because of what happened to the big furry orange guy hanging out on the Dodgers dugout in the 11th inning.

With the dugouts made out of metal, every step Youppi made atop them pounded through the space. In a tight game, each stomp from the Expos mascot raised Lasorda's blood pressure. But after he put on pajamas and climbed back atop the dugout in the 11th inning, Lasorda had enough.

He came out of the dugout and created such a racket that third base umpire Bob Davidson gave a simple flick of his wrist and that was it: Youppi was ejected from the game.

You've never seen how much emotion a mascot's unmovable face can make in that situation, have you?

3. The San Diego Chicken

Yeah, rivalries run deep in the NL West -- something Lasorda would surely appreciate this season as the Padres and Dodgers look to battle for the division crown.

His hatred for mascots extends to the Chicken and though there's no footage, we do have Lasorda to share the story with you:

“I was going into the clubhouse and caught him walking, and I put my hand on his throat,” Lasorda explained in the video. “I said, ‘There’s my hat, crush the hat. Come on, crush the hat.’ He wouldn’t crush it. I said, ‘The next time you do it on the field, I’m going to grab you [by the throat] and your eyeballs are going to pop out.’”

Probably for the best that Lasorda never appeared on "Sesame Street."

4. Lasorda's ... colorful ... language

Lasorda was not one to mince words. Not with mascots (obviously), not with umpires and not with the media in the postgame interview.

When Dave Kingman smashed three home runs against the Dodgers, Lasorda basically created a madlibs game for the newspapers:

"What’s my opinion of Kingman’s performance? What the [expletive] do you think my opinion is of it? I think it was [expletive]. Put that in. I don’t [expletive] care. What’s my opinion of his performance? [expletive]. He beat us with three [expletive] home runs. What the [expletive] do you mean? What is my opinion of his performance? How can you ask me a question like that? I’m [expletive] off to lose a [expletive] game, and you ask me my opinion of his performance?”

The man was a poet laureate for words you can't say on TV.

5. The speeches

While we can all be amused by Lasorda's antics from afar, he was beloved by his players because he cared as much they did. That was obvious any time he spoke.

In 1988, after the Dodgers defeated the favored Mets in the NLCS and then took down the A's in the World Series (you may remember a certain Kirk Gibson home run?) Lasorda showed his players how much he believed in them with a fiery celebratory speech.

Sadly, millions more were never caught on camera, but the players remember them well. Especially when Lasorda gave them while on the toilet:

He even knew how to let his guys know how much he cared when he was pranking them:

6. His stumble at the All-Star Game

It's the blooper to end all bloopers. At the 2001 All-Star Game, Lasorda was coaching third base when Vlad Guerrero lost control of his bat and it flew down the line.

Lasorda stumbled backward, his hat flew off and his legs kicked straight up in the air like some kind of slapstick comedian doing a bit as he tried to avoid getting hit.

It felt wrong to laugh, so fortunately, Lasorda was smiling afterward, too. "I'm not quite as agile as I used to be," he said. "I'll be 74 in a couple months."

7. His jokes

One thing Lasorda was known for was his comedic timing. It's part of what made him such a star, his ability to quickly turn a phrase.

He famously said about the Dodgers' Southern California opposition, “The only Angels in Los Angeles are in heaven, and they’re looking down on the Dodgers.”

There was the time a reporter said she read his lips when he came out to pull his pitcher, saying "What the heck are you doing?"

Lasorda stopped her to interrupt. "What the heck?" he asked her. "Lady, you sure can't read lips."

And then there is what is undoubtedly the cleanest joke he's ever told in his life:

He even stole the scene during his cameo appearance on "Everybody Loves Raymond," giving a full mechanical fix so Ray Romano could make some tomato sauce that's up to Lasorda's high standards:

8. Commercials

While Lasorda was known to baseball fans around the game, it took his almost constant presence on television to turn him into the star that we know him as today. His most famous was when he became the spokesperson for Slim Fast. The famous lover of food dropped -- as he claimed in the ad -- "over 30 pounds in three months."

(Replacing his meals with shakes couldn't have been much fun for Lasorda. He once said, "When we win, I’m so happy I eat a lot. When we lose, I’m so depressed, I eat a lot. When we’re rained out, I’m so disappointed I eat a lot.”)

But while Lasorda was most famously the spokesperson for the diet company, he happily hawked antacids:

Yogurt (dropping some French in along the way):

Beer -- this time showing off his Spanish skills:

And, even years after hanging up his manager's cleats, Lasorda got all riled up to sell trash bags. The guy made more commercials than Don Draper:

9. His reaction to PSY

When "Gangnam Style" was taking over the world, racking up billions of views on YouTube, it only made sense for PSY to go to where the people, lights and action was.

So, PSY showed up at the stadium and raced down by the dugout for a short performance between innings. Everyone loved it except ... Lasorda, who 1) always cares more about the baseball on the field and 2) may not have had any idea who this performer was.

In a way, it was perfect. Lasorda had become a kind of baseball grandpa to many people, and this is how grandpas act.

10. The pipes

Thought you'd never get to see Lasorda belt one out? Wish you could have been with him in some karaoke room? Well, you're in luck:

11. His love of the Dodgers

There are one-team guys and then there's Lasorda. He was more committed to the Dodgers than anyone on this Earth. As he famously said, "I bleed Dodger blue and when I die, I’m going to the big Dodger in the sky.”

Rest in peace.