Look out, Tommy
Lasorda knocked down by Guerrero's broken bat
Updated: Wednesday July 11, 2001 1:57 AM
SEATTLE (AP) -- Someone DID get hit with the shattered barrel of a bat during the All-Star game.
Tommy Lasorda, usually in the center of things, got thwacked on the left hip by Vladimir Guerrero's bat barrel, tumbling back as fans gasped and then laughed when they realized he was OK.
"I've coached third base many, many years and never been hit," Lasorda said. "I never saw the bat coming at me. If I has seen that bat coming at me, I would have had all the time in the world to get away from it. I saw the ball go down the right-field line. I was following the ball."
Lasorda, the National League's honorary manager, was in the third-base coach's box in the sixth inning when Guerrero's bat splintered apart on a Mike Stanton pitch. Lasorda tumbled backward, heels over head.
"I'm not quite as agile as I used to be," he said. "I'll be 74 in a couple months."
When it was clear the Hall of Fame manager was unhurt, Barry Bonds ran out of the National League dugout and tried to put a chest protector on him.
Lasorda's close call brought back memories of Game 2 of last year's World Series, when Roger Clemens threw the jagged barrel of Mike Piazza's broken bat in front of the Mets catcher's path. Earlier Tuesday night, when Piazza faced the Yankees' starter for the first time since that game, nothing dramatic happened."I just thank God he's not hurt," Piazza said. "I'm just happy we can laugh. For about five seconds, I was really scared."
When Yankees coach Don Zimmer saw Lasorda get hit by the bat, the American league coach laughed, then lowered his head below the protective screen that rises from the top step of the dugout.
Two years ago, Zimmer's ear and left jaw were cut by a Chuck Knoblauch foul ball against Texas in the AL playoffs, and Zimmer sat in the dugout the next day wearing a military helmet with the Yankees' logo.
"Why the hell didn't he get out there?" Lasorda said, laughing.
Lasorda compiled a 1,599-1,439 as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers from late 1976 to mid-1996, winning four NL pennants and the World Series in 1981 and 1988. He managed the United States to the gold medal in last year's Sydney Olympics, the first with professional baseball players.
Fans roared at Safeco Field when Lasorda's tumble was replayed on the scoreboard in the eighth inning. NL manager Bobby Valentine of the New York Mets had invited Lasorda to the All-Star game.
"Tommy was my first manager in baseball," Valentine said. "We never were in a major league dugout before, this is the first opportunity and it's been a blessed event."
Lasorda was 1,599-1,439 as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers from late 1976 to mid-1996, winning four NL pennants and the World Series in 1981 and 1988. He managed the United States to the gold medal in last year's Sydney Olympics, the first with professional baseball players.
He was 3-1 in All-Star games, winning his first three. There was one thing about Tuesday's experience that ticked him off.
"I wish," he said, "we would have won the game."