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Dodger fans give it up for Lasorda at the book festival

April 26, 2008 |  1:05 pm

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Tommy Lasorda hasn’t managed a baseball game since he coached the United States team to the gold medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics, but when he talks, you get the feeling that he still thinks he’s in the dugout. At the Festival of Books today at UCLA, it didn’t take long for Lasorda to lean forward in his chair and treat the entire front row as if they were the players on one of his Dodger teams.

The 80-year-old former Dodger manager was interviewed by Mark Langill, the team historian, who has authored several books about the Dodgers. Langil didn’t have to do much to work up the former Dodger manager because the audience did it for him, starting with unison of claps while they grew impatient for the discussion to start.

After he received a standing ovation from a crowd filled with Dodger caps and T-shirts, he regaled the crowd with seldom-told stories about his playing and coaching career. Like his first game as a manager with the Dodgers in the minor leagues, and when he got his first bench-clearing brawl out of the way on his first day on the job.

Then there was the time he was making the transition from third base coach to manager, and announcer Vin Scully asked him if he was worried about replacing the legendary Walter Alston. In typical Lasorda humor, he told Scully he was worried about the person who had to replace him as the third base coach.

Lasorda ended his talk by lowering his boisterous voice, leaning forward in his chair and urging the crowd to let kids enjoy their Little League days because they'll learn lessons that will serve them well in adulthood.

-- Joshua Sandoval

Photo: Tommy Lasorda; credit: Tom Politeo

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