By Aris Sakellaridis
Tommy Lasorda had a potty mouth that would make one smile. If there was such a category, he would have led the league in curse words. Back in 1990 I was at Mark Light Field watching the Miami Hurricanes when I got to witness Mr. Lasorda’s F-Bombs. They were all aimed towards me and I was loving the verbal abuse.
When Lasorda entered the park and took his seat, the baseball fans immediately made a beeline towards him. He obliged everyone with autographs and photo ops. The longtime Dodgers manager couldn’t have been more gracious, until I approached him. I peppered him with questions about the Hurricanes’ talent on the field. “What do you think of Charles Johnson? Do you think Orlando Palmeiro can hit Major League pitching?” Lasorda answered, “I’ll let you know as soon as I get a chance to watch them f–king hit.” I continued to pick his mind with, “Do you think Jorge Fabregas is a high first round pick?” Lasorda gave me a glare and said, “Hey I think your f–king pretzel if ready, go f–king pick it up.” He was boiling at that point and I made him a proposition, “Take a photo with me and then I’ll leave.” He managed a smile and even shook my hand. To say I was on a high after that is an understatement. I was the happiest guy in Coral Gables, with the honor of being cursed out by the great Tommy Lasorda.
I ran into him again during the 2009 World Series outside of Gate 2 at Yankee Stadium. I was with Yankees Co-Chairperson Hank Steinbrenner when Lasorda walked by us in his dapper blue suit. I shouted, “Yo Mr. Lasorda, what’s up?” He looked at me and said, without hesitation, “The f–king sky is up, that’s what’s up!” Hank broke out laughing as I smiled at my deja-vu moment.
I ran into the man who bleeds Dodger blue one more time at the 2010 MLB draft in Secaucus, New Jersey. “The Great Grump” was his usual self. We made eye contact and when I smiled, he blurted out, “What the f–k are you so happy about?” My smile got wider, and I was honored to be cursed out by “The Godfathe” one more time. I called up Hank and shared the experience with him.
Tommy’s wife Jo once asked him, “I think you love baseball more than me.” Tommy answered back, “I guess that’s true, but hey I love you more than football and hockey.” He would also preach, “If you don’t love the Dodgers, there’s a good chance you may not get into Heaven.”
Heaven awaits Mr. Lasorda. May Mr. Lasorda Rest in Peace and thanks so much for the memories you provided to me whenever we passed each other.