by Jimmy Corteau
Tommy Lasorda graced Chadwick with his spirited presence at an assembly in Laverty Center on Jan. 11. A preview of LaSorda’s movie helped introduce the sports legend to the students. A possible title, Don’t Ever Give Up, was the essence of Lasorda’s powerful message to the student body.
Lasorda believes that there are three types of people in this world: people who make it happen, people who watch what happens, and people who wonder what happened. Lasorda prides himself on his ability to inspire players realize that they have to make their dreams happen.
He also considers himself a living example of believing in yourself, no matter how critical others are. LaSorda’s term “Bleeding Dodger Blue” represents that regardless of the odds, one must believe that they can make it happen.
In 1945, Lasorda received a one hundred dollar bonus for signing with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was sent to their minor league D team and told by the manager, upon seeing him pitch, that he was the worst player on the team. A few months later, Lasorda was drafted into the army.
Lasorda remembers dreaming of getting back into baseball, and in 1947, he was discharged from the army and promptly returned to the sport. The following year, he was asked to join the Dodgers in Vero Beach, Florida. However, after one day at the Dodgers’ spring training complex, Dodgertown, Lasorda asked to be traded because he wanted to be treated with more respect.
This desire to be treated properly later became Lasorda’s strongest character trait as a manager. By 1955, Lasorda had worked hard enough to be selected by the Brooklyn Dodgers as a left-handed pitcher. Although a great honor, LaSorda clearly remembers the country’s critical attitude toward his skills. Lasorda explains that criticism was prevalent throughout his baseball career.
As a result of dealing with fighting all the odds, Lasorda gives over 200 speeches a year to schools, churches, charity organizations and youth groups, delivering the message to believe in yourself, treat others with love and respect, and never let criticism get you down.
Lasorda emphasizes that “Love and respect for yourself and others are the foundation of life. If you come from a place where you treat others with respect and love, they will treat you with the same. Listen to the words that come out of your mouth, listen to the words of people who respond to you, and see if what you are telling others is what you are being told.”
Lasorda applied this very philosophy to managing baseball players. He realized that in order to get a player to perform at high standards, Lasorda had to make that player believe he could do it.
“Self-confidence is developed by telling others they can do it. When you tell someone he or she is capable of doing far more than he or she is capable of doing, then you are also telling yourself that you, too, are capable of achieving more,” Lasorda said. In 1960, Lasorda became a scout for the Dodgers. Although his assignment did not seem to be a promising one, he was sent to the Dominican Republic. Regardless of what others thought, LaSorda asked himself, ”What is the price of success?”
He remembers his father, Sabatino Lasorda, telling him that he should be grateful for everything and always be thankful. So Lasorda began to practice reaching his goals by working hard. “If you believe in yourself and you work hard and you don’t give up, you can do anything,” Lasorda said.
A member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, Lasorda led the Los Angeles Dodgers to won two world championships, and he has become recognized throughout the world as the symbol of the Dodger organization. His manager career success clearly outweighed his major league playing career, which consisted of 0-4 wins with an earned run average of 6.48.
Lasorda stood before the Chadwick student body and repeatedly delivered the message to believe in yourself. “When you leave Chadwick to continue your education, be ready to compete in the real world. Be prepared to pay a price. Be prepared to be challenged. Be prepared for failure. But never give up,” said Lasorda.
Due to Lasorda’s regret that he never went to college, today he wants to see, more than anything, that kids get an education. He emphasized during his assembly that an education is crucial and that it is something that can never be taken away from someone.
In addition to speaking for the Upper School, LaSorda did a special assembly for the Village School, had lunch with members of Athletic Council, and visited Ms. Stern’s leadership class.
He challenged the Chadwick students to ask themselves, “Did I do the best I can today?” and “How far am I willing to go to achieve my dreams?