Deseret News sports writer Dirk Facer was among the media to meet with legendary former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda before the University of Utah baseball team's annual fundraiser at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City on Monday night. The 85-year-old Hall of Famer was the guest speaker at this year's event.
Q: What brought you to out to this fundraiser?
A: "This is not the first time I've done this. I've done this so many times, going to colleges and high schools and helping baseball programs because they're the unsung heroes. … (The coaches) don't make much money. They're out lining the field and they get baseballs and try to clean them off so they can use them. You don't see the football coach out lining the field or the basketball coach cleaning out the gym. I have so much respect and admiration for them. I'm talking about all college coaches, all high school coaches. And I've done that. I've spoken to many, many colleges and many, many high schools to help them raise money for their baseball program. No football or basketball — baseball."
Q: What do you think of the Dodgers' new ownership team?
A: "I like it very much. After all, they went out and spent a great deal of money. If we don't win somebody's going to have to go. After spending all that money, my (gosh). That's amazing, but they're good people. They want to give our fans a championship team, and they're going all out. They've backed up what they've said. They've come there. They've put out the money to try to make it a winning team. And if we don't finish first then we've failed. We've got to give our fans a championship team again."
Q: What do you think of Utah?
A: "I've been here a lot of times to Salt Lake City. It's a beautiful city. I'm so impressed with the streets. You don't see streets like that anywhere. The people here are so nice — very, very nice people. So I enjoy it. I came here as manager in Ogden in the Pioneer League. Then I came here as manager of Spokane (and Albuquerque) in the Pacific Coast League. I like the people here and when you go to the ballpark you see what kind of fans that are here and they're really good fans."
Q: What do you think about Dale Murphy not making it into the Hall of Fame?
A: "I admire Dale Murphy, not only as a player but as a person — an outstanding young man, and I think his name should be mentioned. I think his name should be thought about because this guy has had a great career. And I don't know why, just like with Gil Hodges, I am so disappointed. Gil Hodges had such a great career — 12 or 13 years he drove in over 100 runs — but he's not in the Hall of Fame."
Q: How does college baseball feed into the pro game?
A: "Today the coaches are coming out of professional baseball. The coaches are more equipped. They go to clinics, and the coaches of today are so much advanced. They play a very, very vital role in the success of the professionals."