Sacred Heart Athletic Director and former Major League Baseball manager Bobby Valentine said while he did not need another father, Tommy Lasorda felt like a father figure to him.
On Friday afternoon, Valentine, as well as the rest of the baseball world mourned the loss of Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda.
The legendary Los Angeles Dodgers manager passed away at the age of 93 on Thursday evening. According to the Dodgers, Lasorda had a heart attack at his home in Fullerton, California. Resuscitation attempts were made on the way to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday.
“It’s a sad day that’s been coming for a long time,” said Valentine. “He was bigger than life. He was the most amazing person I have met in my entire life. He knew everyone’s name, every story, ever pitch ever thrown, and every at bat he ever had. He could captivate an audience.”
Lasorda had spent 71 years with the Dodgers. In his managerial career which stretched across 21 seasons in Los Angeles, Lasorda won 1,599 games, including World Series titles in 1981 and 1988. He also captured four National League pennants.
Valentine added that he had flown out to say goodbye to Lasorda on a few different occasions, with the belief that each visit would be the last.
“He dodged death for the last six or seven years,” said Valentine. “I flew out to California no less than four times to say goodbye to him. Today I’m flying out again to say goodbye for the last time.”
On top of his professional accomplishments, Lasorda also fulfilled a request that Valentine had for him to fly to Connecticut to meet Sacred Heart’s baseball and softball programs.
Of course, he did. Lasorda visited the campus in fall of 2015. The act was another example of the kind of person he was.
“The fact that he would fly on an all-night flight just to spend an hour and a half with our baseball and softball teams as well as my staff after not sleeping at the age of 88 speaks volumes of the love that he had for me,” said Valentine. “He was always willing to give.”
Valentine said that they are looking to have a memorial for Lasorda that will involve the fans, who will send in photos with Lasorda to capture the impact he had on the baseball community, to create a mosaic.
“Someone who reads or listen to what you guys will report has a picture with Tommy. He’s stayed up more hours of the day than anyone else, and he was out in public more than anybody else for the duration,” said Valentine. “My take is that he has already set for photographs taken with other people. I’m going to try to prove that with this mosaic.”
The Associated Press Contributed to this article.