Chief Master Sgt. Kenneth A. Williams, Electronic Systems Center command chief, watches former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda autograph a baseball after speaking at the Hanscom Conference Center on June 18. The 82-year-old Lasorda shared plenty of jokes and stories with a large group of Airmen and civilians. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rick Berry)
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. - Tommy Lasorda (sitting), hall-of-fame baseball pitcher and manager, signs a baseball and chats with Senior Master Sgt. Clarence Yoh following Lasorda’s speech to Airmen and civilians at the Hanscom Conference Center on June 18. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rick Berry)
by Peter Blackburn
66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
6/24/2010 - HANSCOM AFB, Mass. -- Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager and baseball hall-of-famer Tommy Lasorda spoke to more than 100 Hanscom Airmen and civilians last Friday afternoon at the Hanscom Conference Center.
The 82-year-old Lasorda spoke to the crowd for over an hour, sharing jokes and stories that provoked plenty of laughter from the crowd. Lasorda, a United States Army veteran, said he finds great pleasure in meeting the men and women who serve in the United States armed forces.
"I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you [Airmen] do. Speaking in Iraq was one of the greatest thrills of my entire life," said Lasorda, who served on active duty from 1945 to 1947.
During his address to the crowd, the former manager called for a united, nationwide support of U.S. troops overseas, despite political or religious differences among Americans.
Lasorda, one of the most successful coaches in baseball history, also spoke about the importance of having confidence in oneself as well as in others. He also shared motivation tactics and examples of how he was able to convince his players to believe in themselves, even if it meant lying to them for their own good.
Lasorda stated that he was proud to have worn four uniforms in his life: a Boy Scouts uniform, a U.S. Army uniform, a Dodger uniform and United States baseball uniform for when he coached the team to a gold medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
"I wore my United States Army uniform with pride and dignity. I was honored to wear the uniform representing the greatest country in the world," recalled Lasorda.
Following his speech to the troops, Lasorda hosted an autograph session in which he signed memorabilia, posed for pictures and talked with fans about his baseball career, one that exceeded six decades. Over the course of his career Lasorda amassed 1,599 wins as a Dodgers manager, including two World Series titles and four pennants. He was inducted into the baseball hall-of-fame as a manager in his first year of eligibility in 1997 and had his uniform number retired by the Dodgers that same year.
Before wrapping up, Lasorda delivered an inspiring final message to the troops.
"Be proud of that uniform; don't do anything to tarnish it. Walk around with your head held high knowing that you represent the greatest country in the world."