Baseball lost a monumental figure Thursday night when Los Angeles Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda passed away at the age of 93.
The Dodgers released a statement Friday morning announcing that Lasorda had a sudden cardiopulmonary arrest late Thursday night.
Lasorda spent more than 70 years as a member of the Dodgers organization. He had a brief playing career as a left-handed pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers before becoming a scout, minor-league manager and eventually taking over Walter Alston as the Dodgers' manager in 1976. Lasorda spent 21 years as the Dodgers' manager, winning World Series titles in 1981 and 1988.
Even after a heart attack ended his managerial career in 1996, Lasorda remained an ambassador for the Dodgers and baseball throughout the remainder of his life.
While a giant in Los Angeles, Lasorda served as the chief figure in the Giants-Dodgers rivalry for 21 years. The Giants released a statement on Friday morning about Lasorda's passing.
"We are saddened to hear of the passing of Dodgers legend and Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda. Tommy was one of baseball’s greatest ambassadors and truly loved the game and the people in it. We will never forget his good humored banter and the long walks he’d take across the field at Candlestick Park blowing kisses to Giants fans. He deeply respected and symbolized the great Giants-Dodgers rivalry. We send our deepest condolences to the entire Dodgers organization and the Lasorda family."
Lasorda infamously addressed the Giants' crowd at the last night game at Candlestick Park in 1999, wearing a jacket with his name misspelled as "Lasodra," all while blowing kisses to Giants fans.
Lasorda and the Dodgers also upset the 1988 Oakland A's in the World Series, sparked, of course, by Kirk Gibson's now-iconic home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1.
After winning the 1988 World Series championship over the vaunted 104-win A's, Lasorda stood on a chair in the clubhouse and delivered a brief speech that incapsulated his fiery persona.
"Hold it!" Lasorda shouted as recalled by Yahoo! Sports' MLB columnist Tim Brown. "Nobody thought we could win the division! Nobody thought we could beat the mighty Mets! Nobody thought we could beat the team that won 104 games! We believed it!"
Lasorda was then mobbed by his players, celebrating the last Dodgers' World Series title until this past October, when Lasorda was in attendance to watch the Dodgers defeat the Tampa Bay Rays.
Lasorda finished his Dodgers career with a 1599-1439-2 record. During that same span, the Giants went 1,540-1,584 and made the playoffs just twice.
Tommy Lasorda was a legendary figure in the game of baseball and a huge part of one of the greatest rivalries in sports. He is survived by his wife Jo, daughter Laura and granddaughter Emily Tess.