Even though Los Angeles Dodgers' baseball manager Tommy Lasorda "doesn't even know" Democratic candidate Wayne Owens, he has faith Owens will be re-elected to the 2nd congressional seat Nov. 6.
Lasorda visited Salt Lake City Monday to raise money for Owens, who faces a tough race against Republican candidate Genevieve Atwood."I don't even know this gentleman, but I've been impressed by the things I've heard about him," Lasorda said during a press conference at the Red Lion Hotel.
The baseball celebrity, who is featured on television advertisements for the Ultra Slim Fast weight loss program, said he came to Salt Lake City after Dan Abraham, president of Thompson Medical, the company that makes the liquid diet, asked him to attend the dinner to raise funds for Owens.
"My good friend, Danny Abraham, who is also a dear friend of the congressman (Owens), asked me if I would come up, and I was very, very happy to do so," Lasorda said.
Then, speaking to Owens, Lasorda said, "Danny Abraham told me you're a nice man . . . and a lady at the airport told me that you're one of the best political leaders in the state. So I said, pretty good. I'm going to meet a man who is well thought of."
Owens said, "Tonight we have the biggest name in American baseball here. . . . I'm really honored. Tonight we are all Italians."
Owens was accompanied by Democratic candidates Jim Bradley and Randy Horiuchi, who are running for the Salt Lake County Commission against GOP incumbent Commissioners Bart Barker and Tom Shimizu.
Horiuchi surprised Lasorda by wearing a full Dodger uniform to the event. Horiuchi told Lasorda that he "wanted to be the Tommy Lasorda of Utah's politics."
"I'm a Japanese Fernando Valenzuela," Horiuchi quipped.
But Lasorda replied, "You're a little lighter than Fernando (Valenzuela)."
Lasorda, speaking for the first time at a political fund-raiser, told the three political candidates to work hard and "make this country and Utah a better place to live in."
He urged them to love their jobs and be dedicated to their constituents because "people have faith in you."
Lasorda, who was not paid a speaker's fee by the candidates, then said the jobs of a politician and manager of a famous baseball team are much alike.
"We both strive for the same things. You in politics and me in baseball. I want to be the best manager in baseball, and you want to be the best politician. I want to finish first, and you want to finish ahead of everybody else. I want to make money, you want to make money, without question.
"So, consequently, your job is no different than mine.
"Whatever success I achieve becomes a reality only because of the contributions of my players. I depend upon people, and you depend upon people. You need the people's votes in order to put you in the position that you want to be in. I need the contributions, the dedication, the hard work, the loyalty and the pride of my players in order for me to be successful.
"You got to be honest with the people (just) like I have to be honest with my players" Lasorda said. "I can't tell my players something and then do something else. You can't tell the people one thing and then do something else, you'll lose respect like that."
He also asked the candidates to be united and pull their constituents together, and he praised the state of Utah, where he won Pioneer League championships each of his three years managing the Ogden Dodgers, a farm club to the L.A. Dodgers, in 1966, 1967 and 1968.
"I spent three years in Ogden and I loved every minute of it. . . . I came to Salt Lake City many, many times. . . . I love and admire the people here. I love this city very, very much. . . . I was so much in love with this area that I sent my daughter to Utah State University for a year. I think that's indicative of what I think of this place."
First lady Barbara Bush is expected to speak Wednesday on behalf of Atwood at the Marriott Hotel at 1:30 p.m.