Dodger baseball manager Tommy Lasorda, known for his temper with umpires and weight-loss hucksterism, will be in Salt Lake City on Oct. 29 to raise money for Democratic candidates Wayne Owens and Jim Bradley.
Lasorda, who has been advertising the success of Ultra Slim Fast weight loss formula on television lately - a product he uses and is paid to endorse - is no stranger to Utah.He won Pioneer League pennants each of his three years managing the Ogden Dodgers, a farm club to the L.A. Dodgers, in 1966, 1967 and 1968.
Lasorda was a left-handed pitcher of moderate success in the minor leagues before joining the Dodger organization in 1960 as a scout. He moved up the minor league rungs, spending time in Ogden, before being named Dodger manager in 1977. He's been there ever since, winning several world championships.
"We decided to have some fun with a fund-raiser, and this is what we came up with," said Bradley, who is running for the Salt Lake County Commission against GOP Commissioner Bart Barker. "This has nothing to do with politics, except as a fund-raiser for us. This is baseball talk all the way."
Lasorda is not being paid a speaker's fee by Bradley or Owens, says Bradley. "We're paying his expenses, that's all. Hey, the guy wouldn't know me from Adam. He knows Wayne somehow."
The somehow is Dan Abraham, president of Thompson Medical, which makes Ultra Slim Fast. Abraham has been a strong supporter of Owens, financially and otherwise, for years.
"Their friendship goes way back," says Art Kingdom, Owens' press aide. "We have cases of Ultra Slim Fast stacked in our office. Wayne tries it now and then, but its effect is modified by the fact he goes home at night and pours the refrigerator down, I think."
Bradley's wife organizes fund-raising activities for various groups. "We told Wayne we'd put this thing together if he'd share some of the profits with us. He agreed."
The Lasorda affair isn't cheap. For $100 you get a steak dinner for one, a monogrammed baseball hat, popcorn, peanuts, wine, bear or soda pop. For $75 you get a philly steak sandwich and the rest. For $50 you get a polish hot dog, popcorn, peanuts, beer (no wine) or soda pop.
For $300 per person (a maximum of six tickets only), you get to sit at Lasorda's dinner table and get your picture taken with the famous manager.
Democrat Randy Horiuchi, who is running against GOP Salt Lake County Commissioner Tom Shimizu, says he'll be as close to Lasorda as allowed during his visit. "I'm a fanatic Dodger fan. I got a Dodger uniform, but it doesn't fit me any more. Dodger baseball - it's more important than a county commission race, I can tell you that."