LOS ANGELES - Tommy Lasorda can laugh about it now. At the time, he was dead serious.
Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of Lasorda’s most famous — or infamous — postgame tirade as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s become a cult classic on the Internet, with the Hall of Fame skipper at his most profane.
Dave Kingman had just led the the New York Mets to an extra-inning victory at Dodger Stadium with three home runs and eight RBIs, when a young radio reporter named Paul Olden asked him, “What did you think of Kingman’s performance?”
“What’s my opinion of Kingman’s performance?” Lasorda said. “What the (expletive) do you think my opinion is of it? I think it was (expletive). Put that in. I don’t (expletive) care. What’s my opinion of his performance? (expletive). He beat us with three (expletive) home runs.
“What the (expletive) do you mean, ‘What is my opinion of his performance?’ How can you ask me a question like that? I’m (expletive) off to lose a (expletive) game, and you ask me my opinion of his performance?”
Looking back on the incident, Lasorda showed remorse for allowing his temper get the better of him.
“I’m sorry that I did an interview like that, and I’m not proud of it,” Lasorda said Saturday. “I’ve been married now 56 years, and I’ve never used a word of profanity in front of my wife, my children, or anybody else’s wife or children. But on the ballfield, I’m bad. I’m really bad.
“So when that guy talked to me, I was as low and depressed and dejected as you can get. I mean, we lose the game in 15 innings, I had to go into my starting pitchers, and it knocked the daylights out of me. Then this guy comes in at the very moment I sat down and asked me ‘What is your opinion?’ So I proceeded to tell him what my opinion was.”
Lasorda didn’t realize just how much his remarks would be replayed. Plenty of radio listeners have heard bootleg copies of it over the years — including some of Lasorda’s celebrity acquaintances.
“I remember once when Burt Reynolds walked into a restaurant and saw me with my wife,” Lasorda recalled. “He said, ‘Hey, Tommy, I just came in on my plane and we played your tape.’ Then my wife goes, ‘What tape?’ I said, ‘I don’t know what he’s talking about.’
“Then the next night we had dinner with another couple and they told me they were at a party where they played the tape, and I told them I didn’t know what they were talking about. Eventually she found out, though — but I didn’t want her to know that I did something like that.”
Olden has since gone on to do play-by-play for the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and for many years announced the starting lineups over the public address microphone at the Super Bowl.
“I ran into Paul a few times when he was announcing for Tampa Bay,” Lasorda said. “I told him, ‘You didn’t do anything wrong. I was the guy who did something wrong.’ Eventually it got all over the country — and I think now it’s in Japanese.”
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