Tommy Lasorda is a two-time World Series winner with the Los Angeles Dodgers and he is currently baseball’s oldest living Hall of Famer. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997 and was also the National League Manager of the year in 1983 and 1988.
In this interview Tommy and I discuss whether or not Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, his adamant stance on Gil Hodges and managers he formed special relationships with.
SHAFIN KHAN: What was your best memory as the manager of the Dodgers?
TOMMY LASORDA: I got a whole bunch of them. The Kirk Gibson home run probably. 1988 World Series. He shook the world when he hit that pinch home run.
KHAN: Which World Series win was sweeter for you personally?
LASORDA: Which finger on your hand do you like the best?
KHAN: What was your relationship like with Jackie Robinson?
LASORDA: He was my friend and teammate. He was a tremendous competitor. He wanted to beat you when he put that uniform on. He wanted to do whatever he had to do to win. He was a winner.
KHAN: Did you ever see Jackie face racism when you were on the road with him?
KHAN: How did you motivate players throughout your career?
LASORDA: I just had to talk to them and make them understand what it’s all about. How much value they bring and what they can do for the organization.
KHAN: Do you have any regrets from your career?
LASORDA: Yeah, one. That I’m talking to you. [laughing] I’m just joking. I think everybody wants to change a lot of things that didn’t work right. I felt the twenty years that I managed the Dodgers I had to do things right or I wouldn’t have been around. Only a couple people have managed a team for twenty years in the big leagues. There’s only a couple people who have done that. There’s a lot of second guessers out there, believe me.
KHAN: What other managers did you form special relationships with?
LASORDA: Sparky Anderson. For one, we were teammates at first. We were naturally against each other later but that was only because of our job. Lou Piniella, I managed against him and he was an outstanding manager. He belongs in the Hall of Fame and I hope he gets in there. Gil Hodges. This is something I can’t even think about, it burns me up to much. That Gil Hodges is not in the Hall of Fame. Can you believe that? He managed the Mets to a championship. He played like a Hall of Famer. He represented the game wherever he went and he’s not in the Hall of Fame. That’s the worst thing that I can say about the Hall of Fame. Gil Hodges belongs in the Hall of Fame.
KHAN: In your long career who do you think is the best baseball team you ever saw?
LASORDA: Ask me what finger do I like the best.
KHAN: What finger do you like the best?
LASORDA: I like all of them.
KHAN: Who was the best pitcher you ever saw play the game?
LASORDA: In my time, I’d have to say Sandy Koufax.
KHAN: Do you think Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame?
LASORDA: Pete Rose does not belong in the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is for what your contribution was to the game of baseball.
KHAN: You have gone through a lot of different experiences in life, what advice would you give to a young man?
LASORDA: Work hard. Keep your mouth shut a lot of times when you think you need to say something. That can get you into trouble. Really enjoy life. If you don’t really enjoy it your making a big mistake. You have to enjoy it and get up in the morning and be ready to go for whatever your endeavor is.