In today’s editions of the Daily News, Daily Breeze, Long Beach Press Telegram, Pasadena Star and all others in the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, a version of the Tommy Lasorda Q-and-A appears — one condensed from the blog version we posted over the weekend.
(We’ve also posted some video worth checking out, linked here).
Among the responses we’ve received is an essay written by John Paciorek, whose brother Tom played for the Dodgers in the 1970s and was one of Lasorda’s favorites.
John Paciorek has become famous in baseball lore for having the best one-game performance for the Houston Astros as an 18-year-old in 1963 before an injury derailed his career — one where he finished with a 1.000 batting average. In 2012, Sports Illustrated caught up with John Paciorek to recapture what happened and where he is today with his family in San Gabriel.
Baseball: A Rampage of Appreciation For Tommy Lasorda
By John Paciorek
Of all sporting activities (to watch and play) baseball is still my favorite, even 45 years after playing in my one and only big-league game.
In its particular “rah-rah” fashion, the game evokes a pure spirit of camaraderie. It elicits from all teammates, individually and collectively, an inspirational band of communication that connects all to each other in a common bond until the ultimate decision for victory or defeat is imminent.
As the game is played from childhood through adulthood, the constant chatter amongst teammates, on the field, or in the dugout, is reminiscent of the reverberations that stimulate the livelihood of all kindred creatures, from humans to meerkats. What’s missing in the big leagues is a collective reverence for the repetitious banter of inspiring incantations that continuously summon mind’s heart to display the emotions of passion, exuberance, and courage that will somehow manifest the jubilation and ecstasy that proceed from triumphal endeavor.
Certainly this irreverent”display is never to be witnessed in the stoic, immobile, or sometimes volatile demeanor of most contemporary dugout leaders. Traditionalist views of John McGraw and Connie Mack portray contrasting temperaments that elicited either fear or beneficence from the minds and hearts of the players attached to those regimes.
But from where does true inspiration come? It comes from an exemplary figure whose embodiment characterizes the source from which well-being emanates.
On Saturday, June 28th, 2008, the Dodgers hosted a luncheon (and game afterwards) celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and commemorating the heroic players of the 1970s. My brother, Tom, was one of those players.
His words, about what playing for the Dodgers meant to him, echoed the sentiments of other players present, including Steve Garvey and Bill Russell. In short, they all offered respect and great appreciation for the man at the helm of each of their careers, the man who was, and is still the epitome of what the Dodgers, and baseball itself, means to Los Angeles and much of the world.
There is no one who evokes the childlike spirit of inexhaustible exuberance, no one who embodies the gracious extent of joyful anticipation and exhilarating expectation of successful culmination than Tommy Lasorda.
“YOU’VE GOT TO BELIEVE” that every ounce of positive energy comes from the very soul that created the universe.
And “YOU’VE GOT TO BELIEVE” that I am the very exponent of that universal source of energy, the exemplification for all who find their way into the jurisdiction of my “realm of enthusiasm.”
“YOU’VE GOT TO BELIEVE” that you too can generate unrestrained enthusiasm of a genuinely righteous cause for success and victory.
It would behoove us all to follow the Lasorda example, for his “yoke is easy, and his burden is light.”
His great appreciation for the opportunities he had been given has only inspired him to give more of himself, and to demonstrate that he has even more to give.
If you ever have been within the visual and audio range of Tommy Lasorda, as a player, spectator, or fan, you must have been impressed with the positive energy exuding from his very presence. If you were an opponent, you may have felt enraged, however unwittingly, over the inherent edge any of his teams held over yours because of their incontestable advantage, the synergy due to his unfair alliance with the gods of majestic vibrational harmony.
My biggest regret, about a back-operation that precluded my quest for an enduring big-league career, is the loss of any opportunity to experience the memorable accounts that my brother Tom has graciously afforded me through his own recollections of his “Life with Lasorda –The Formative Years.”
Parents, of students I teach, always ask me where, at the age of 64 (now 68), I get the energy and exuberance to interact with those youngsters? I hardly ever tell them the truth, but in quiet reverie, I admit to myself that I just try to live up to the expectations of the “Great Dodger in the Sky,” and try to emulate the words and dedication of His most prolific beneficiary.
“You’ve got to believe” is a standard reference point from which I start my day with all the enthusiasm I need to further appreciate the opportunity to live life with inexhaustible energy.
Before that game on Saturday, all the players of the 70s were introduced on the field, and received their just applause from an admiring crowd. But when the last dignitary walked onto the field of dreams, a thunderous roar of Appreciation went out to the most beloved Dodger of them all –Tommy Lasorda, whose humble gratitude always goes out to the “Great Dodger in the Sky.”