Dodgers retire Lasorda’s No. 2 jersey
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ It’s official _ former manager Tom Lasorda will bleed Dodger blue forever.
Lasorda became the ninth man in franchise history to have his number retired Friday night when the Los Angeles Dodgers mandated that jersey No. 2 will never be worn again.
``Tonight is one of the most prestigious nights of my life,″ Lasorda said during a 31-minute ceremony before the Dodgers faced the Cincinnati Reds. ``What a wonderful reception that you have just given me.
``I never got a base hit, I never hit a home run, I never struck anybody out. Whatever success I achieved as manager of the Dodgers became a reality because of the contributions of our players. They are the ones who put me in the Hall of Fame. They are the ones who made it possible for my number to be retired tonight.″
Among others who spoke during the ceremony were team owner Peter O’Malley; longtime announcer Vin Scully; general manager Fred Claire; current manager Bill Russell; Hall of Fame umpire Doug Harvey; former Cincinnati and Detroit manager Sparky Anderson and former shortstop Pee Wee Reese.
``Tonight, we give you the greatest possible compliment by the Dodgers,″ O’Malley said immediately before Lasorda spoke.
``I was on the veterans committee when you were inducted into the Hall (last March), and everyone there was really tickled to death that you got in,″ Reese told Lasorda.
``I’ve only played for two managers here in Los Angeles _ Walter Alston and Tom Lasorda,″ Russell said. ``Tommy, it was only a matter of time before you made the Hall of Fame. I’m just glad I was a small part of your success, and I just hope to keep the tradition going.″
There were also videotaped messages shown from former Dodgers Fernando Valenzuela and Kirk Gibson.
Lasorda, inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Aug. 3, managed the Dodgers for 19 1/2 seasons before retiring July 29, 1996 because of health concerns. He had suffered a mild heart attack five weeks earlier, and underwent two angioplasty procedures.
The Dodgers won 1,599 games, two World Series championships, four NL pennants and eight division titles under Lasorda, who succeeded Alston, another Hall of Famer, following the 1976 season. Alston managed the team for 23 years.
Lasorda and Alston (No. 24) are the only two former managers to have their numbers retired by the Dodgers, and two of 14 ex-skippers in the Hall of Fame.
The Dodgers have also retired the numbers of seven players _ Reese (1); Duke Snider (4); Jim Gilliam (19); Sandy Koufax (32); Roy Campanella (39); Jackie Robinson (42), and Don Drysdale (53). All are in the Hall of Fame except Gilliam.
``There’s nothing like the Hall of Fame, but this is a special thing for me because nobody will ever wear that uniform number again,″ Lasorda said earlier this week. ``When you stop and think of all the people who have worn the uniform of the Dodgers over the years _ and I’m one of only nine _ it’s quite an honor that they think enough of me.″
Lasorda, who turns 70 next month, is completing his 48th year in the Dodgers organization. Following his retirement as manager, he was named a team vice president.
Lasorda wore No. 27 when he played as a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s, and No. 11 when he managed at Class AAA Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League before becoming the third-base coach for the Dodgers.
Lasorda wore No. 52 during his four years as the Dodgers’ third base coach before becoming manager. After being named to succeed Alston, he chose No. 2 in honor of former Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher.