Tommy Lasorda back at ballpark

Updated: June 17, 2012, 2:00 AM ET
By Tony Jackson | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- Tommy Lasorda, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Hall of Fame manager, appeared at Dodger Stadium on Saturday for the first time since suffering a mild heart attack while attending baseball's amateur draft on June 4 in New York.

Lasorda was laughing, in a good mood and said he actually felt more energetic since having a stent inserted to clear what he called a 90 percent blockage in one of his coronary arteries.

Lasorda, 84, said it was baseball commissioner Bud Selig and former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who now works in the commissioner's office, who convinced him to go to the hospital.

I have (them) to thank because I wasn't going to go, I'll tell you that right now," Lasorda said. "(Former Dodgers outfielder) Luis Gonzalez said, 'How are you feeling, Tommy?' and I said I was feeling a little woozy. All the different teams were getting ready for the draft. He told everybody I was sick. Everybody came up to me and asked if I was feeling all right, if I was doing all right."

It was at this point, Lasorda said, that Colin Gunderson, his longtime assistant, decided to have medics come in and take Lasorda's blood pressure.

"They said I needed to go to the hospital," Lasorda said. "I said, 'I ain't going to no hospital,' but they said I had to go. And then the commissioner came over and said, 'You're going to the hospital,' and then Joe came over and said, 'You're going to the hospital.' So I guess I have to go the hospital."

Lasorda said the symptoms of this heart attack were nothing like the first one he suffered in 1996, which forced him to step down as manager after 20 years.

"The first one, I felt it," he said. "I broke into a sweat, and I had little pains. This one, I didn't feel anything. When they said I had a heart attack, I couldn't believe it. I didn't know anything was wrong. But evidently, I did (have a heart attack)."

Lasorda had to get clearance from his doctor to come to the ballpark for Saturday night's game against the Chicago White Sox and said he planned to stay through the middle innings. Someone asked him if he felt it was safe for him to come and watch the Dodgers, with their penchant for playing tense, one-run games.

"That's probably what got me there, watching them," he joked.

Lasorda said the prescription going forward is cutting back on his notoriously heavy schedule, which includes visiting one of the team's minor league affiliates, giving a speech, traveling around the country. He admitted that would be tough for him to do.

"I'm going to do all I can," he said.

He also said doctors told him to lose weight, although he wasn't given a specific number of pounds, and that means radically changing his diet.

"I think it was the spaghetti and meatballs that got into (the artery)," he joked. "I could eat spaghetti and meatballs every day for the rest of my life, that is how much I love pasta, but I have to give it up. I have to give it up if I want to stay around."

Lasorda managed the Dodgers from 1976, when he took over for the retiring Walter Alston, until suffering his first heart attack in '96. Since then, he has remained active, most notably managing the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. He still puts on the uniform during spring training, and he even returned to managing the Dodgers for a week during spring training in 2008.

Lasorda, who led the Dodgers to World Series titles in 1981 and 1988, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998. His currently is employed by the Dodgers with the title of Special Advisor to the Chairman.

Tony Jackson

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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