LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — CBSLA Sports Director Jim Hill has covered Tommy Lasorda for many years in Los Angeles.
Following the passing of the Dodger great, Hill took a moment to reflect on his dear friend and what he meant to the city.
“Tommy was one of my best friends in the world,” Hill said Friday. “He’s one of the people that is responsible for me having the terrific job that I have right now.”
The Dodgers Hall of Famer died Thursday night after suffering a heart attack. He was 93.
“He taught me about baseball. He taught me all the intricacies of baseball and everything,” Hill continued. “One of the things I’ll never forget — It was the Friday before Mother’s Day in 198 when I lost my mother. I flew to San Antonio, Texas not knowing where I was going to stay. Tommy Lasorda told Steve Brener, then the PR director for the Dodgers, ‘You find Jim Hill,’ and Steve said, ‘Tommy, there could be 100 hotels in San Antonio.’ Tommy said, ‘I don’t care. You find him.'”
“I hadn’t been in my room for five minutes. The phone rang. I was at the Omni Hotel in San Antonio. The phone rang, it’s Tommy Lasorda saying, “Whatever you need from me, I’m right here for you my brother and I love you,” Hill remembered.
Lasorda spent an incredible 71 years with the Dodgers organization. He managed the Dodgers for 21 seasons from 1976 to 1996. He won two World Series titles in 1981 and 1988 and has 1,599 career wins as a manager, 22nd all-time.
He’s very special to me, he’s very special to all of us and we love him,” Hill said. “He’s gone now to the big Dodger in the sky. That’s where he wanted to go.”
Hill then recalled the last time he spoke with Lasorda saying, “I spoke with Tommy about two and a half weeks ago. I just called to see how he was doing. He said, ‘Fine, good to talk to you.’ I said, ‘OK, you know, Happy New Year, keep the faith.'”
“He was always the eternal optimist. To him, the glass was never half-empty, it was always half-full. And in Tommy’s case, it was half-full, and then some,” Hill said. “The impact that he had on Major League baseball is really nothing compared to the impact he has had on his fellow mankind and there will never, ever be another like Tommy Lasorda.”
Lasorda had been hospitalized in Orange County in November with an undisclosed ailment. He was in the hospital for six weeks before returning home in early January.
He is survived by his wife Jo, his daughter Laura and his granddaughter Emily Tess.