Baseball legend Tommy Lasorda comes to Washington today for a variety of reasons. First, the team that is nearly synonymous with Lasorda's legacy, the Los Angeles Dodgers, are coming to town to play the Washington Nationals. Second, today is his 82nd birthday and who wouldn't want to celebrate their birthday in the nation's capital. And lastly, he will be at the National Portrait Gallery this morning for the unveiling of a new portrait of the Hall of Famer.
After a short and rather ignominious major league career as a pitcher, Lasorda worked his way through the farm system as a manager before becoming the skipper in 1977. He led the Dodgers to four National League pennants and two World Series Championships before retiring during the 1996 season with a final record of 1599-1439. For us younger fans, Lasorda may be better known for his off-field activities than his on-field accomplishments. He has been a pitch man for Slim Fast, blasted slugger Dave Kingman in a profanity-laden tirade, brought a "whole new ballgame" to Sega Genesis with the eponymous "Tommy Lasorda Baseball," and was the highlight/lowlight of the 2001 All-Star Game when he took a tumble from a flying broken bat. (Old school, unembeddable video here) And since this is the 21st century and all, Lasorda even blogs for MLB.com
Artist Everett Raymond Kinsler painted the life-size portrait on a commission from the Dodgers, and he will be in attendance at the unveiling along with baseball commissioner Bud Selig, Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt, and National Portrait Gallery director Martin E. Sullivan.