Tommy Lasorda, who spent seven decades in the Dodgers organization – first as a player in Brooklyn and then in Los Angeles as a two-time World Series winning manager – has died. He was 93.
Lasorda had a sudden cardiopulmonary arrest while home Thursday evening. Less than an hour later, he was pronounced dead at 10:57 p.m., the team said in a statement.
“Regarded by many as baseball’s most popular ambassador, Lasorda spent 71 seasons in the Dodger organization with Dodger Blue running through his veins,” the team said.
Major League Baseball also issued a statement expressing grief, saying, “We mourn the passing of Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda.”
Lasorda, who won World Series titles as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981 and 1988, pitched in the Brooklyn Dodgers system in 1954 and 1955. He took over as manager of the Los Angeles in 1976, a job he held for 20 years, winning two National League Manager of the Year awards along with those two world championships. He also led the team to 1,599 wins during his time as manager, and was the first National League manager to win two pennants in the first two seasons.
After retiring in 1996, he was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.
In pictures: Tommy Lasorda, legendary Los Angeles Dodgers manager
Lasorda was known for his unbridled love for the Dodgers. In an interview with CNN in 2013 at Dodger Stadium, Lasorda said simply, “I love this place.”
“Sometimes I sit here and I can’t believe it. Blue heaven on earth,” he said. “I used to say ‘Hey, if you want to get to heaven, you gotta go through Dodger Stadium’.”
He loved it so much, he said, he wanted to be buried beneath the pitcher’s mound – the position he used to play.
“And when some little ol’ left-hander’s out there struggling, he’ll hear a voice. ‘Slow down, son. Concentrate. You can do it. You gotta believe in yourself.’ And he’ll look around (and say), ‘Someone’s talking to me! Where? Who’s this guy talking to me?’ And it’ll be Tom Lasorda, underneath that pitching mound,” the Hall-of-Famer, a lefty pitcher himself, told CNN.
The tributes are pouring in for the man, whose #2 jersey was retired by the team in 1997.
Dodgers owner and chairman Mark Walter said, “He was a great ambassador for the team and baseball, a mentor to players and coaches, he always had time for an autograph and a story for his many fans and he was a good friend. He will be dearly missed.”
Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully said he would also remember Lasorda’s “boundless enthusiasm” and determination.
“Tommy would get up in the morning full of beans and maintain that as long as he was with anybody else,” he said.
Lasorda is survived by his wife of 70 years, Jo; their daughter, Laura, and granddaughter Emily Tess.
CNN’s Lauren M. Johnson contributed to this report.