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Tommy LaSorda: Darryl Strawberry's Addiction Was a Weakness, Not a Sickness

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Tommy LaSorda: Darryl Strawberry's Addiction Was a Weakness, Not a Sickness
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Addiction is a continued involvement with a substance or activity despite the negative consequences associated with it.

Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda was one of the great managers of all time. He considers himself a leader and a patriotic American.

In his book, The Artful Dodger, which was published in 1986, LaSorda presented four beliefs that he lives by. He wrote:

"Baseball is the best game in the world; the Dodgers are the best sports franchise in the world; the U.S. is the greatest country in the world; Tommy Lasorda is the luckiest guy in the world because of his attachments to all three of the above."

LaSorda has no room for "namby-pamby" approaches to anything. His philosophy reeks of rugged individualism and being responsible for one's actions. His reaction to Darryl Strawberry is typical LaSorda.

Strawberry "disappeared" at the start of the 1994 baseball season. LaSorda became livid when he learned that Strawberry admitted he had a "drug problem."

"I'm very upset," Lasorda said. "When you're weak enough to let something like that control you, it's disgraceful. How someone can be so dumb to put something in his body that will destroy him is beyond me.

"I get tired of hearing people describe this as a sickness. Sickness is cancer, a heart attack. Not substance abuse. That's a weakness."

Circumstances don't seem to matter to LaSorda. Weakness is not an excuse, and that also applies to his family.

Tommy Jr, LaSorda's son, died of complications related to AIDS in 1991. The father and son were estranged, primarily because Lasorda refuses to acknowledge his son's homosexuality. When asked about the cause of his son's death, LaSorda insisted that he died of cancer.

Bobby Valentine, who has known LaSorda since the late 1960s, tells a story that illustrates how tough and unyielding LaSorda can be, both with his words and with his fists.

"He was tough with his fists," Valentine said. "I saw him in front of his house one day hit a kid who had been speeding by on a motorcycle. Knocked him across the hood of a car."

There have been times when LaSorda could be gentle. After his mother had suffered a stroke, he sat at her bedside, talking about her life with his father, recalling events with his four brothers and telling her how proud he was of her. He hoped that she was proud of him.

She later asked her son Joe how much Tommy received for making a speech. Joe told her that Tommy would usually be paid $2,500. Tommy's mother said,

"Give him the whole $2,500. He just made the best speech I ever heard."

 

Reference:

Verdi, Bob. "There's trouble between the white lines." The Sporting News 18 Apr. 1994: 9. General OneFile. Web. 26 Nov. 2011.

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