TOMMY LASORDA: AN APPRECIATION OF HIS CATHOLIC FOUNDATON, THE MESSAGES HE TOOK FROM IT, AND HOW HE PREACHED IT
By Tom Hoffarth
In his 1985 autobiography, “The Artful Dodger,” Tommy Lasorda had a confession to make about when he was growing up in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
“Every Sunday morning when we went to church, my father would give me two pennies to put in the collection basket,” said the Dodgers Hall of Fame manager.
“On a number of occasions, I figured I would split it even-up with the Lord. So when Father Pasto, our parish priest, held the basket in front of me, I’d drop one penny in and palm the other one. And then Father Pasto would hit me on the head with the basket and I’d drop the other penny in.”
Our own two cents: The passing of Lasorda at the age of 93 on Jan. 7 gave us cause to pause. All the times we were in his circle of discussions, probably laughed at his profane jokes, cringed at some of other things he said, smiled when he talked about the latest fundraiser he’d be the guest speaker.
One of the most often used Catholic-related messages Lasorda passed on in his talks to church groups came from his immigrant father, Sabatino, who left Italy to work in the U.S. in 1920, driving a truck for a quarry for Bethlehem Steel.
In his 2015 book, “My Way,” Colin Gunderson, who became Lasorda’s personal assistant with the team for many years, relayed something about when Lasorda was about to leave home and attend his first spring training as a player. He said his father hugged him and said: “Remember: Just because God delays does not mean that God denies.”
So for all of Lasorda’s bombastic personality, heralding the existence of “The Big Dodger in the Sky,” what did his religious upbringing do to shape him? We explored that in the newest edition of Angelus News, the Los Angeles Catholic news organization.
More to read:
== In 2013, we sat with Lasorda for a lunch-tuned-dinner Q&A at Dodger Stadium. What brought us there was somewhat non-transparent: We had seen him at a recent Old Timers’ Day and really were concerned about his health. He was, after all, 84 at the time, had some heart issues …
We needed fresh material.
The highlights are here.
== An hour long presentation where Lasorda spoke about sports and spirituality at the USC Caruso Catholic Center in March 2014:
== Among the things you’ll find on Twitter is this Vin Scully narrated piece: