Hall of Fame Manager and Special Advisor to the Chairman Tommy Lasorda will travel with Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, NBA legend David Robinson and four cast members of the CBS military drama, “The Unit,” on a USO tour overseas.
The goodwill mission will take Lasorda to military bases to boost morale and extend America ’s thanks to service members. Lasorda, along with Admiral Mullen and the rest of the tour members, will visit with thousands of troops from all branches of the service.
“It is an honor and a privilege to help the men and women of our Armed Forces in whatever way I can,” said Lasorda. “We have the greatest military in the world, and I want them to know how much we love and appreciate their patriotism, sacrifice, and courage.”
Lasorda has supported the U.S. Armed Forces since his 1945 draft at age 18 into the U.S. Army. Stationed at Fort Mead, MD after completing basic training at Fort McClelland, AL , Lasorda served two years at the end of World War II. At the end of the war, draftees were given the option to leave or re-enlist, and Lasorda stayed with the Army to serve, putting his professional baseball career on hold to fulfill his duty.
“Major League Baseball is thrilled that Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda will accompany the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, on his first USO tour to thank our nation’s troops,” said Commissioner Selig. “ Tommy is an outstanding ambassador for the game and has consistently honored the members of our Armed Forces. Tommy”s love for our country and the Los Angeles Dodgers is legendary. He is an outstanding choice to express the pride that all of us in Major League Baseball have for the men and women who are serving our country with honor and excellence.”
Over the course of his six-decade career with the Dodgers, Lasorda has given motivational addresses to more than 35 U.S. military bases around the world. Most recently he visited Luke AFB (2009), Offutt AFB (2008), the USS Gary (2008), Vandenberg AFB (2006), and Barksdale AFB (2006). He has addressed the U.S. Air Force Academy nine times, West Point twice and the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD twice. He has also spoken at the National War College in Washington D.C. In 2008, Lasorda accepted an advisory role on the U.S. Army Los Angeles Recruiting Battalion.
Lasorda is well known for his patriotism. During the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney , Australia , Lasorda managed an underdog United States team to the Gold Medal over the highly favored Cuban national team just five days after celebrating his 73rd birthday. The Olympic Gold Medal, which Lasorda considers his greatest professional achievement, is the first and only Gold Medal won by the U.S. in baseball.
Lasorda has met seven U.S. Presidents - Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, who asked Lasorda to serve as a delegate to the U.S. National Day at the World Exposition in Aichi , Japan in June 2005. The World Exposition was not the first time that President Bush had called upon Lasorda for his assistance, as the Hall of Fame manager participated in the festivities surrounding the President’s second inauguration day in January 2005.
Two months later, Lasorda accompanied Dodgers’ Owner Frank McCourt and CEO Jamie McCourt , in addition to the family of Jackie Robinson , during a visit to the White House on March 2, 2005, to represent the Dodgers in a ceremony that posthumously awarded Robinson the Congressional Gold Medal. Two seasons ago, Lasorda joined Dodger legend Don Newcombe in leading a contingent of Little Leaguers from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. for a tee-ball game on the South Lawn of the White House.