Q: Sparky Anderson would often say that he had two different people inside of him. One was “Sparky,” the manger, the one the public saw. And there was “George,” his real name, the private person from Thousand Oaks. You’ve built yourself a real a Hollywood success story. Someone from small means, driven to become someone important – and now bigger than life. Are there two separate people there: “Tommy,” the public person, and “Tom,” the private person who not a lot of people don’t know, living in the same house in Fullerton with his wife Jo?
A: Well I’d have to say there would be. Yeah, sure. The one thing about it, the whole concept, we’d go out with the Sinatras, or Gregory Pecks, or Kurt Douglases, we’d drive home and my wife would say, “Now you’re coming back to reality. Don’t think you’re like those people. You think about us.” That’s the truth. We were with them all and knew them all. I’ve been able to dine with presidents, with leaders of corporations, traveled for 14 years with (financier and philanthropist) Michael Milken, who has taught me so much about life. Hanging around with them, it’s nothing I could have believed in grade school. I could be with all of them? Milton Berle, Don Rickles, Dean Martin … this former third-string pitcher from the Norristown High baseball team and the son of an Italian immigrant? I really am in awe when I think that has happened to me. What a life.
Q: Do you like keeping that private part of you separate from the public part?
A: Hey, it doesn’t make any difference to me.
Q: Do you feel like you have to flip a switch on sometimes and be the public “Tommy” and people want you to be?
A: No, I never wanted that.
Q: Did you get your first sense of being part of Hollywood when you ended up pitching in the Pacific Coast League for the Los Angeles Angels (then a Dodgers’ minor league team before their move to L.A.)?
A: I think I got a little bit of it. That’s where I first met (actor) George Raft. I started a big fight one game and afterward he was waiting for me to say, “That was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.”