Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Laura Lasorda and Eric Karros joined Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva and other dignitaries from the city of Fullerton over the weekend to unveil the sign for and officially dedicate the Tommy Lasorda Memorial Highway.
Recognizing the late Los Angeles Dodgers manager with such an honor began in 2021, when California legislature passed ACR 67.
The ceremony to unveil the sign and formally announce the freeway in Lasorda’s honor coincided with Opening Day for West Fullerton Little League. Karros used the opportunity to relay a memory of Lasorda in effort to inspire youth, much like the Hall of Fame manager did.
“One thing Tommy use to always tell us is you’ve got to believe. You’ve got to believe in yourself. You’ve got to believe that you can get that hit. You’ve got to believe that you can field that ground ball. You’ve got to believe that you can make that pitch. Always believe in yourself and always think that you can do it,” Karros recalled.
“Just to show you that it does work, Tommy, when I was a rookie, my very first game in 1992, I was playing first base for the Dodgers. We’re in San Diego, and I’m on deck. San Diego is my hometown. That’s where I grew up and where I played Little League. Before I go up to the plate, I’m in the on-deck circle and Tommy says, ‘Eric, come here.’
“I’m all excited because this is going to be my first at-bat of the season, but Tommy calls me, so I run over to the dugout. He goes, ‘Remember, I used to throw you batting practice all spring long. And I used to throw you that inside fastball, and I’ve got better stuff than that guy you’re going to face. So look for that fastball inside.’
“Again, I’m real nervous and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, come on.’ I step up to the plate, and all I be darned, that first pitch was a fastball inside and I turned it around and hit it into the seats. I’m running to first, I’m excited, I did it in my hometown.
“But the whole way I’m thinking Tommy believed in me and believed that it would happen. That says something about the power of belief. Kids, believe in yourself.”
Karros also reiterated Lasorda’s message of “kids first.”
That’s a tenet Laura is proof of and was proud to see Karros share with the parents in attendance, and she was in awe of the honor bestowed on her father.
“This is really a special day. Seeing the freeway sign, I don’t even have a word to describe it. I was thinking on the way down here, even from heaven, my dad has this power, and his philosophies and what he believed in, they’re carrying on,” Laura said.
“That’s really important. I was thinking, ‘Oh my goodness. He’s got a street in Vero Beach named after him, he’s got an asteroid named after him, he has his portrait in the Smithsonian at the Portrait Gallery, he’s got sandwiches named after him, and now he’s got a freeway named after him.’ It’s so touching and I’m really appreciative of everything.”
Where is the Tommy Lasorda Memorial Highway sign located?
California legislation designated a stretch in Fullerton, where Lasorda made his home, with a Tommy Lasorda Memorial Highway sign located on Southbound Interstate 5 before Lincoln Avenue and Northbound I-5 before Ball Road.
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