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Customer Review

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars disappointing at first but it gets better, April 14, 2008
This review is from: I Live for This!: Baseball's Last True Believer (Hardcover)
I have seen Plaschke on TV and met Tommy Lasorda at Dodger stadium one time as we past his limo heading into the park. This was after his managerial carrer was over. My wife was a nurse working when Tommy's wife wsa treated at Centinela hospital i 1991. He stopped to talk to us and sign something for us but said he was in a hurry. My wife mentioned his wifes's hospitalization and we got into a nice friendly conversation before he left. As related in the book, Tommy was himself hospitalized at Centinela in 1996 for a heart attack. So even though I was a Yankee fan and relished in the Yankee victories over his Dodgers in 77 and 78, I found him to be very nice, funny and endearing.

That type of personality comes through in this book as well. But early on we learn about his idiosynchrosies and the story meanders. It is hard to tell where Plaschke is trying to go with this.

I was thinking about a possible two star review or at most a three. But things got interesting as I moved toward the latter chapters. I learn how he managed to get the Dodgers to sign Mike Piazza and how Lasorda helped mold him into perhaps the greatest slugging catcher in baseball history.

But the most interesting part for me was to read how he took advantage of the moves Fred Claire made to revamp the team after a dismall 1987 season to build a world champion. Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser were the key players and under the leadership of Gibson Lasorda could lay back and let Gibby motivate the rest of the players. So Tommy shut down his usual pep talks and ket the team run on automatic pilot to take the West Division championship. However when the got to the NLCS they had to beat a strong Mets team that had beaten the dodgers badly in their regular season games. It was the way he managed motivated and handled pitchers like Oraszco and Hershisher that got them through a tough seven gane series. In the world series they faced a very formidable Oakland team led by bash brothers McGwire and Canseco. The way he used Kirk Gibson in game 1 produced one of the most dramatic game winning homeruns in the history of the World Series.

Inside strategy and motivational tricks that Lasorda used to bring out the best in all his players is what makes the book interesting, So I give the book four stars for showing this and the many facets of the complicated personality that is Tom Lasorda.

Also interesting and a point I did not know was that as a player in 1957 his beloved Dodgers traded him to Kansas City (the choice was keep Lasorda or keep Koufax) and since Kansas City traded players to the Yankees so much he quickly was traded to the Yankees and was immediately sent to their AAA farm team in Denver, the Denver Bears. In Denver Lasorda learned a lession in managerial psychology from his manager Ralph Houk and this affect the way he treated players throughout his managerial career.

Another very interesting point was how his loyalty was tested when in 1976 he was offered a nice contract to manage the Montreal Expos but turned it down. He knew that Alston would be retiring soon and he felt that he had built up relationships with the current Dodger player who he had managed in the minors that my serve him to have a good shot at becoming the Dodger manager. His thinking was absolutely right and in 1977 he was picked to replace the retiring Alston as the Dodger manager.

The story has a happy ending with Lasorda leading the USA baseball team to the Gold medal by shutting out the favored Cubans 4-0 in the final.
After this a Bostonian decides to buy the LA Dodger franchise and bring Lasorda back into prominance wheras the previous owners from FOX had ignored this Dodger icon.
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