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09/22/09 5:51 PM ET

Lasorda chats with fans on birthday

Hall of Fame Dodgers manager honored in DC

Tommy Lasorda: Let's get started!

KhiemVu: How does it feel to be in the Smithsonian?

Tommy Lasorda: Well, it's something that I never thought could happen, but it's another example of what can happen to someone who believes in himself. I was completely shocked when I found out that they were going to do that.

Tommy Lasorda: I think it was outstanding today because of the fact that I had so many of my friends there. We had the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a four-star general, General Chilton, the FBI, our GM Ned Colletti, our manager Joe Torre, which I really appreciated.

Tommy Lasorda: I had my four brothers, plus Ralph Avila, Tom Paciorek, Brian Stephenson, Steve Brener, Rick Honeycutt was there and Mark Sweeney. It was just outstanding.

Tommy Lasorda: And also Jamie McCourt was one of the speakers and the commissioner, Bud Selig, was a speaker. It was truly outstanding to have those two people speak about me. Plus a number of people from MLB, Pat Courtney and Rich Levin, Jacqueline Parks, Tim Brosnan, Joe Garagiola Jr. The list goes on. I'm truly honored.

Tommy Lasorda: It's a day that I'll never forget. I just can't tell you how I felt when I looked at that painting. It brought tears to my eyes. It was because of what it represented. It was a life that I have lived and that I have been so happy about. God has been great to me and that's what it's all about.

ashley619: Tommy!! I live in Fullerton, but I was wondering why you lived in Fullerton. ... Why not live closer to Dodger Stadium? Why did you choose Fullerton?

Tommy Lasorda: Well, when I moved from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles, our scouting director at that time, Al Campanis, was living in Fullerton. He brought me out there and we found a place to stay there. That's how it all happened.

Tommy Lasorda: I've been living in the same house for 50 years!

thesven55: Who are your favorite players to watch these days?

Tommy Lasorda: I like our ballclub. I like to watch Ethier play and Furcal play shortstop. I like to see Kemp because he's exciting and that's the kind of ballplayer I like. I also like Orlando Hudson ... this guy has enthusiasm. He plays the game with a lot of enthusiasm and that's what I like about players.

luc44: Hey Tommy! I've bled Dodger Blue since birth (1971). Our current team is one of my favorites yet with all of the homegrown talent. Do you see this team staying together for the next 5-6 years?

Tommy Lasorda: I sure think so and hope so. That's what Ned and Frank and Jamie McCourt are trying to do. To have consistency with our players. There's a saying in this country, maybe a lot of people are listening, and it's "If you don't pull for the Dodgers, there's a good chance you may not get into heaven."

Tommy Lasorda: And of course, we've got the greatest fans in all of baseball. This game doesn't belong to the owners or the players. It belongs to the fans. you can have the best team in baseball and if nobody goes through those turnstiles, you'd have to shut the doors down.

Tommy Lasorda: We must at all times make the fans feel good ... sign autographs, take pictures, talk to schools, and tell youngsters to stay off drugs because it will lead them down the path of destruction.

tacvba05: what do you miss the most about being in the field?

Tommy Lasorda: I really miss the players. I loved my players. Joe Torre said this when he became the manager. He said Tommy Lasorda hugged his players and we all laughed at him. Now we all do it. That was my way of showing them how much I appreciate what they're doing for me and the team.

Tommy Lasorda: I needed those players a lot more than they needed me. If you don't win, you're out. And in the 20 years that I managed the Dodgers, there were over 200 managers fired because they couldn't do the job.

nellyjune: What are your thoughts on Andre Ethier's success this season so far?

Tommy Lasorda: The moment I saw him play in Triple-A, I thought he was going ot be outstanding. And when Bowa, Mattingly and Torre came here, they wanted to know about our players. They asked me about Ethier and I said, "If he plays every day, he'll hit 25-30 home runs." Now he's playing every day and he's got more than 30.

umdala: Happy Birthday, Tommy! What area of the Dodgers' defense would you like to see more focus on coming in to the playoffs?

Tommy Lasorda: I think we're set defensively. I think we have an outstanding fielding right side of the infield. And you'll never see a better shortstop then Furcal. And at third base, Casey Blake is oustanding. The outfield is solid, too.

CLARK34: Hey Tommy Lasorda, happy birthday!! I have always wondered, what made you decide to put Kirk Gibson in to pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth in the World Series?

Tommy Lasorda: Well, every inning I ran into the training room to see if there was anything he could do. And every time, he'd give me thumbs down and I'd go back down again to the dugout. But we're coming off the field for the ninth inning and Mitch Poole, our clubhouse kid, told me Gibson wanted to talk to me.

Tommy Lasorda: He said I think I can hit for you and I ran out of there real quick. Scioscia was the first hitter, followed by Jeff Hamilton, then Alfredo Griffin, then the pitcher. I told Mike Davis, you hit for the pitcher. That was that.

Tommy Lasorda: Then when he called me, I said, "Change of plans." Davis, you hit for Griffin and we'll let Gibson hit for the pitcher's spot. So two outs later, Mike Davis is up there hitting. He played for Oakland the year before, so Eckersley isn't going to let him hit the ball out.

Tommy Lasorda: I put Dave Anderson on deck as a decoy, so he didn't want Davis to hit the ball out, so he walked him. That fourth ball was thrown and I said, OK, big boy, get out there. And he electrified the crowd when he came out of the dugout. I got goosebumps.

Tommy Lasorda: On radio and TV, they said he's not going to do anything. I said I'd give him two strikes to hit the ball out of the park and if he doesn't, we're going to steal second.

Tommy Lasorda: So we did and I figure if he gets a base hit, Steve Sax was on deck. Eckersley makes a pitch, he hits the ball, all I watched was Canseco ... when he got to the fence, I thought, "Uh oh, that ball is out of here." Bedlam broke out at Dodger Stadium.

Tommy Lasorda: Never in my 20 years did I ever see the crowd react like that. There are many great home runs over the years, but I've never seen one that had the drama attached that this one did.

jamie1988: Mr. Lasorda, do you think Billingsley will be ready for playoff ball?

Tommy Lasorda: I think so. I think he's OK. What people sometimes don't understand is that pitchers go in slumps. So do closers. Everybody at some time or another, goes in slumps. It's inevitable. Every team in baseball will win one third of their games and every team will lose one third, which is 54.

Tommy Lasorda: So I used to say, if we win 102 games, there's going to be 60 days where I'm going to be the most miserable guy in the world. But with Billingsley, he still has the stuff. He seems to have lost command a little, but he can gain it back real quick.

KhiemVu: What is your favorite movie?

Tommy Lasorda: The Yankee movie about Lou Gehrig, Pride of the Yankees, I must have seen that movie 20 times and cried every time I saw it.

ethangt: Happy birthday Tommy! I just bought a first edition copy of your book The Artful Dodger and am through the first 30 pages or so. Surprised to see how good of a fighter you were. Did you ever use your fighting skills in a brawl on the baseball field?

Tommy Lasorda: I've been in more fights on the baseball field than Tyson had in the ring!

yamamoto30: What was your most memorable Dodgers World Series team and why?

Tommy Lasorda: I'd have to say that our '88 team, everybody said that this team could not win. Everybody thought that when we played the mighty Mets, that they were going to really rock us because they had beaten us 10 out of 11.

Tommy Lasorda: Once we beat them, everybody thought Oakland would knock us out, but you don't play the game on paper. The seven games that I managed in the Mets series were the seven toughest of the 63 playoff games that I managed in.

RawhideBlue: Happy Birthday! My birthday was last week. What was the best birthday present you've ever received?

Tommy Lasorda: Well, I asked Santa Claus one time to give us a championship and he did. That was 1988. I said Santa, I don't ask for too much but we need -- our fans need -- a championship. And he gave it to us! So, I still believe in Santa Claus.

delilah09: Hey Tommy, did you write and practice your motivational speeches before hand or were they all improvised

Tommy Lasorda: I never write down anything when I speak. I feel like, when I'm speaking to people, I'm speaking to my team. And I talk to them just as I would my team. I don't have a sheet of paper prepared to talk to my team, so I don't have a sheet or paper to talk to anybody else.

Tommy Lasorda: I do a lot of speaking, but I don't write anything down. I do it right off the top of my head. I really enjoy speaking and talking to schools. I enjoy making youngsters understand what it's going to take to make it in life.

Tommy Lasorda: I tell them, I know what it's like to be your age, but you don't know what it's like to be my age.

westlos420: What do you expect from Manny Ramirez in the postseason?

Tommy Lasorda: Just like everybody else, we need that big bat of his and we're hoping he can give it to us. he can carry a club and change the game around.

DodgerBay: This year's team is on track to win 97 games, the most by a Dodger club since your 1977 team won 98. How do you think this team compares to that great team?

Tommy Lasorda: I think that our team, our '77 team, was a very, very talented team. I'm going to have to say that I saw four guys do something that had never been done, where four guys hit 30 or more homers. Garvey, Smith, Cey and Baker. It had never been done before.

Tommy Lasorda: The mighty Yankees, with all their power, were never able to do that. I thought we had a talented team and of course, the Yankees beat us in the World Series because they had a talented team, also. Boy, that team was full of talent.

ZITOSLAYER: Tommy, I read I Live For This and thought it was great. Can we expect a sequel?

Tommy Lasorda: Well, I've written two and the reason why I wrote the books, I wanted people to know what it's all about in life. If you really want something bad enough, you can attain it. All you have to do is believe in yourself. I try to get people to believe in themselves. That's the first step to success.

Tommy Lasorda: When they read the book, I want them to know that anybody can attain a goal if they try hard and give it everything they have. I was a third-string pitcher on the Norristown, Pa., baseball team. I was "worthless." But I stayed with it and made it to the Major Leagues, and then again as a manager because I believed I could do it.

thesven55: How does it feel to have a Tommy Lasorda night?

Tommy Lasorda: When they have a night for you, it's so great. I really appreciate it. It's also going to be Italian night, so I'm asking every Italian who is reading this to come out Oct. 2. We've got to show these other countries -- the Irish, the Mexicans, but they won't believe it when they see all those Italians come out. I'm going to be up there mixing it up with them.

Tommy Lasorda: We're going to show everybody what the Italians can do. We're going to bring all of Italy to Dodger Stadium, which I call Blue Heaven on Earth. See you all there!

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.