Remembering The Dodgers' Tommy Lasorda, A Champion To The End
When the Dodgers won the National League West title in 1988, NPR assigned me to cover the playoff series with the New York Mets.
The Mets had won 100 games that season to the Dodgers' 94. They'd beaten the Dodgers 10 times in 11 games during the regular season. But the series would open in Los Angeles and the Dodgers would send their ace, Orel Hershiser, to the mound in Game 1.
Hershiser, as all Dodger fans know, had thrown a record 59 consecutive scoreless innings coming into that ballgame. He hadn't allowed a run in more than a month.
Hershiser kept it up in Game 1 against the Mets. He threw 8 shutout innings and took a 2-0 lead to the top of the 9th. But the Mets rallied for 3 runs in the top of the 9th and won the game 3-2.
It was a crushing loss, or so it seemed.
After the game, I was part of a group of reporters outside Tom Lasorda's office, waiting for him to come out and talk. Inside, Lasorda sat behind his desk with a pair of reading glasses on, looking over some papers.
The wait went on. I leaned in through the open office door and said, "Tommy?" I was worried he'd be steaming mad after the 9th inning. But he wasn't.
Lasorda looked up for a moment and said, "I'll be out in a minute."
And he was. We crowded around, some with notepads, some with microphones, but nobody said anything. Finally, I spoke up just to get something going.
"Tommy, that's a tough loss. Can you come back from a loss like that?"
Now I was really worried he'd go off, but he didn't. Instead, he looked at me and said, "Yeah, sure we can."
It wasn't a tossed-off comment. He didn't dismiss my question. He answered it with the confidence of someone who knew his team, knew his opponent, and knew that a series can change in an instant.
That series with the Mets changed several times before the Dodgers finally won it in seven games.
Tommy was right. Can you come back from a crushing loss? Sure you can.
REMEMBERING TOMMY LASORDA
We will share more memories as they come in.