Monday, July 28, 2008

Lasorda Trivia

Tommy Lasorda authored a piece in today's Los Angeles Times, recounting his history with the Dodgers and his love for the game. It ran with a picture of the very young pitcher Lasorda in the 1954-55 season.

That got me thinking--when was the first time Lasorda played in Los Angeles?

It wasn't with the Dodgers.

Tommy Lasorda played in an exhibition game on Saturday, March 7, 1953 against the L.A. Angels at Wrigley Field. Lasorda was the rookie pitcher for the St. Louis Browns at the time. And in the second exhibition game on Sunday, the pitcher was Satchel Paige.

The Browns, back then, spent spring training in San Bernadino, playing at Perris Hill Ballpark. Wrigley Field at Wilshire and Western was L.A.'s stadium in the days before Dodger Stadium. This picture shows the park on July 22, 1930, when its first night baseball game was played. Found it online at the LA City Library. (Correction to Wrigley Field location HERE.)

Mr. L didn't mention that in his piece, recalling that he was drafted by the Dodgers in 1949, after a stint in the army, and was sent by them to Greenville, SC, then to the Montreal Royals, a Dodger affiliate.

Less that 2500 people watched the Browns get beaten, 6-5 that Saturday. Lasorda, "conditionally purchased from Montreal," took over for another rookie pitcher, Don Larsen, after five innings. It was probably not the debut Lasorda hoped for; he let 6 runs get by in the next two innings.

Live and learn. He got better--as he recalls in the Times article, he was playing for Brooklyn in 1954.

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