Okay, so the title is embellished. Technically, Tommy Lasorda is a legend due to his twenty-one years as the Dodgers’ manager. And he did suit up in an A’s uniform for a half season back in the franchise’s fruitless and largely forgotten Kansas City days. This is the tale of what is, to me anyway, one of the more interesting footnotes in Athletics total franchise history.
Long before manifesting his legend as the Dodgers’ two-time World Series-winning manager, Thomas Charles Lasorda was a small, ruddy-faced left-handed pitcher in the Dodgers’ minor-league system. His repertoire consisted of the following:
A fastball that had less heat than an unplugged toaster. “He was a shitballer,” Ed Mierkowicz, a long-time minor-leaguer who faced Lasorda said during a 2010 interview. “He threw a lot of crap up there. You had to be patient with him.”
A big overhand curveball that made catchers’ lives miserable. “He had that 12-6 curve and catchers would hate him because he'd bounce it so often,” recalled Glenn Mickens, a former teammate. “He'd beat the catcher to death.”
But Lasorda was nothing if not a competitor. “He'd knock his own mom down if it meant winning a ballgame,” Mickens said. “Talk about a competitor, he was amazing!” Bellicose in deportment, he was not above starting a fight if the moment called for conflict. On at least one occasion with the A’s he touched off a brawl while on the mound. In particular, to hear Lasorda tell it, there was an animus-tinged rumpus involving Billy Martin (or “Banana Nose,” as Tommy claimed to have dubbed him) on the sacred soil of Yankee Stadium that spawned out of Lasorda’s insistence on buzzing Yankee towers with purposely errant tosses.