CHAPTER ONE: Trying to Eat
“Do you see that sign?”
“I don’t think so. I am not convinced you really see it. It’s right there – see it? Tell me buddy what does it say?”
“Blue Heaven on Earth…”
“See it again, you know I am a little hard of hearing.”
“BLUE HEAVEN ON EARTH!”
“All right. And seein’ is believin’ right?”
“I think I better say yes.”
“What do you mean you think you better say yes? You don’t know? Man, I have to talk this out with you… When you see and you believe, you feel it. You understand? That’s just not some slogan painted on a sign! This IS blue heaven on earth!”
“All right, ok, it’s blue heaven on earth…”
“Damn straight! By the way, eat all the meatballs, don’t leave stuff on your plate. I didn’t put my name on this kitchen because I had nothin’ better to do.
And I don’t hang around here cuz I got nowhere else to be! I like heaven… I got there, I got here, before anyone else, far as I’m concerned. And when I am not here, when this body, all of it, yep, alllll of it, when this body aint here because I went to the big ball game in the sky, I will STILL be here. You believe that, don’t you? Well, you ought to! I am not going anywhere. This is where I am always going to be… here. This park! This place! This team!”
I finished my plate. I ate the whole thing.
“Hey, every body – he ate the whole thing!”
Several smiled and waved. Invariably a crowd surrounded Tommy. He asked them: You see that sign?”
They all turned around and nodded.
“You believe it?”
They all smiled, nodded again, some said “You bet!”
He asked them, “Now I just want to ask, you believe it don’t you, all of you? I just got finished explaining to this young man what it means. Blue Heaven on Earth… I don’t have to explain it to anyone else here do I?”
CHAPTER TWO Skipper
Thomas Charles Lasorda. Sixty nine years with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers organization, the longest tenure anyone has had with the team, even more than the incomparable Vin Scully.
For some, Tommy is nothing more nor less than a folk hero.
You want a pep talk?
You need to get motivated?
I don’t know how to say this: Tommy could talk the Devil out of doing evil. Probably has!
Let’s go over a few of the facts: Managed the Dodgers to two World Series championships, four National League pennants, eight division titles, 16 wins in 30 National League Championship games, managed sixty one post season games, managed four all star games, managed nine separate rookies of the year, and has 1,599 career wins. Oh, he came out of “retirement” to manage the United States
Olympic baseball team in 2002, and ho hum, lead the Americans to the gold medal over heavily favored Cuba…
He was voted Manager of the Year by one or another publication a bunch of times, has served as Special Advisor to the Chairman of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which means he does everything from scouting to teaching minor league players, to being an unparalleled ambassador for the Dodger organization (let alone baseball itself), and carries through with countless speaking engagements to a variety of charities, private groups, and military personnel.
Yes, yes, of course, he is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
You know what? The food at his Trattoria at Dodger Stadium is really good. You know what else? I have been able to sit and talk with Tommy on occasion. I can only tell you that blessings come in all sizes and shapes, and Tommy is not true blue because that’s a color associated with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is true blue because that’s one way of trying to describe his heart and soul. Everyone has a note they want to write to him, something they want to say to him, something they wish they could make sure he knows. Corny, sappy, everyone just wants to say “We love you Skipper…”