DALLAS — The irrepressible Tommy Lasorda was here this morning. He is on Hall of Fame’s Golden Era committee that voted Ron Santo into the Hall of Fame.
Lasorda also has long been Bobby Valentine’s biggest advocate. The two met in 1968 when Valentine played for Lasorda in the minors in Ogden, Utah. Bill Buckner and Steve Garvey were on that team, too.
Lasorda said he knew back then that Valentine had the intelligence to become a manager one day. He is certain that Valentine will succeed in Boston.
“I’ve seen him plan for a game. I’ve never seen many managers do that. He can plan for that game as good as anybody I’ve ever seem,” Lasorda said. “He’s got a lot of enthusiasm and what he’s got to do is … get them all to to play for the name on the front of their shirt and not for the game on the back of their shirt. If he can do that, then he’ll be successful.”
Lasorda said Valentine can solve the chemistry issues that were revealed when the team collapsed in September.
“That’s the ability that the manager has to have, to be able to put them all together. You have to get them all on one end of the rope and pull together,” he said. “If you do that, you’re going to have success. … You have to make them believe they’re the best in baseball and he can do that.”
Lasorda also support the idea of Buckner coming aboard as the bench coach.
“I think that would be great. Buckner was an outstanding hitter. I think Buckner could relate to players. I think if they select him, that would be a good selection,” he said.
Lasorda also told two old war stories about Valentine:
Story one: “He was 18 years old when he came to play for me and he was so damn smart it was unbelievable. He used to get these newspapers, the Stamford Advocate. I would read ’em and it would say, ‘Valentine, although he didn’t get any hits, played a tremendous game defensively.’ Who the hell is watching this game? Next one I look at says, ‘Valentine got a big hit of the game and the other guys had chances to drive in the winning run and they didn’t.’
I found out later that he was sending in the reports of the game. Damn, he’s pretty smart.”
Story two: “We used to go into Vancouver. When you walked into the stadium and you turned right to go to the clubhouse, there was a room with big glass [windows]. You could see inside that room. They got three German [shepherds] in that room and you look in there and they’d want to jump out after you. They’d hit the damn glass they’d want to get you so bad.
“So now we’re playing and it started to rain and it’s raining and raining. So I’m standing out there watching the rain and I go in the clubhouse. I go in and there’s nobody in there. I said to the trainer, ‘Where the hell is everybody?’ He said, ‘Valentine bet all the guys that he could go in there and pet those dogs.’
I said, ‘What?” I took off. Son of [gun], he’s in there petting those dogs. I said, ‘Get your ass out of there. What the hell are you, crazy getting in there?’ He said, ‘Tommy, I’ve been feeding them dogs all week.’ He won a lot of money.” He was smart, he was sharp.”