September 22, 2009

A Proud Day For Dodgers Fans

This portrait was hung in the National Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution today.

Tomma Lasorda is still the personification of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he is also something of an ambassador for the whole sport of baseball.  His infectious enthusiasm for the sport, his wide-eyed joy at seeing players of all ages do well, and his personal charisma overcome any criticism of his perhaps-a-little-too-frequent profanity-laced tirades.  Fact is, however unprofessional it might have been, you didn't want Tommy mad at you. Even if you were on the other team.

What's particularly nice to note about him is that he began his career in baseball back when there was still a lot of racism in the game, and he was quick to point out that really good players are few and far between, and teams that want to win simply don't have the luxury of disregarding someone with talent and ability because of something so petty as the color of their skin.  He took that idea to heart early and wholly and has lived it ever since -- and is a living reminder of the bridge between old school and new school American culture.

Which, of course, is why his portrait belongs in the Smithsonian Institution, which isn't all about Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington but instead is supposed to be a repository for all sorts of examples of what American culture is all about.  Baseball is a part of American culture and Tommy Lasorda is American baseball.

1 comment:

zzi said...

Just don't ask him what he thinks of Kingman's performance.