On a day when no one wearing a Dodger uniform could avoid a question about the change in ownership, Tommy Lasorda was no exception.
Surrounded by reporters outside the team’s spring training facility in Glendale, Arizona, today, Lasorda addressed his future with the club as a “special advisor” to the owner, as well as his relationship with Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten, two members of the incoming ownership group.
On what his role will be under the next regime: “I have no idea. If they don’t want me, I’ll just say goodbye and say, ‘hey I had a great time,’ and if they want me, I’ll continue doing what I’m doing.”
On what the Dodgers need to do: “I’ve been on the radio, interviews, 30 last night and 30 today. It shook up the whole baseball world. We’ve finally got an owner, now it’s time for us to sit down and say, ‘what do we need, how are we going to do it?
On how fans reacted last season: “You better believe I saw it. The Dodger fans will come back. They just had a bad feeling and they left. We have to bring them back. Mr. O’Malley …stopped season-ticket sales because he wanted people to come up to the gate. I think he stopped it at 25,000 people. We’ve got to get that back.”
On whether the ownership situation was a distraction to players: “I don’t think so. When I was on the mound I didn’t think about anything but geting the guy out. I don’t think they do anything different. When you’re up at the plate, you don’t think about anything other than getting a base hit, hitting the ball.”
On how much he saw Magic Johnson play: “I saw him play a lot. I met Magic when he first came here. I gave him a Dodger hat and he wore a Dodger hat for a lot of years. He’s a great guy. He’s a guy who made it. He worked hard to get where he is. I’m proud of him to even be associated with us.”
“Yeah, I saw him play a lot of games, sure. When Jack Kent Cooke had the club he invited me every game. Basketball and hockey.”
Can the Dodgers become what the Lakers were in the 1980′s? “People love baseball in this city, people love the Dodgers, people are going to come out and see the Dodgers because now they don’t have a bad feeling about anybody. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what caused the fans to stay away. I’m not that dumb that I didn’t see it. I saw it happen and you guys saw it happen. We’ve just got to win ‘em back, that’s all.”
Lasorda’s best answer came in response to the question of who was the better basketball player, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan.
“I think a lot of people want to know your opinion, Tommy,” the reporter said.
“They wanted to know my opinion of Kingman, too,” Lasorda said, referring to this legendary tirade after a 1976 game in which Dave Kingman hit three home runs in an 11-0 Mets win over the Dodgers. “It became a relic.”