Lasorda Sleepwalks Through Philadelphia
Sports Hall of Fame Honor Ceremony
The 6th Annual Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony provided a marvelous opportunity for family, friends, and fans to meet and greet their idols. The event took place on November 12, 2009, at Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing Hyatt, a grand setting.
Modern inductees, in part, included: former Phillies infielder, Larry Bowa; Penn State football’s, John Cappelletti; former Philadelphia middleweight boxing champion, Joey Giardello; Eagles’ great, Pete Retzlaff; the LA Dodgers’ Tommy Lasorda; plus Legacy of Excellence inductees, Philly Daily News reporter/columnist, Bill Conlin; and Merrill Reese, Eagles radio broadcaster.
Some fans paid $275 for the privilege of spending an hour and a half before the dinner to talk with, and be pictured with, their heroes. If one desired time with Tommy Lasorda, they were disappointed as unlike the other inductees, Tommy skipped the preliminary event all together. He walked into the main dining hall just minutes before the program began. Each inductee was ask to speak for four minutes as there were a total of fifteen inductees—a long program. Most exceeded the time limit by a few minutes, Lasorda talked for 34 minutes and during the long dissertation he lost his place numerous times when telling what could have been very funny stories.
At the conclusion of the event, Lasorda was whisked away by his entourage before the dinner plates were even cleared. He also abandoned the beautiful plaque commemorating the occasion and his induction into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.
Joey Giardello died on September 4, 2008 or he would have relished being among some of his very own heroes, as he was one of the biggest Philly sports enthusiasts the city had ever seen. He was a baseball fan and loved playing as a kid, and even while a professional boxer, a usually contract no-no clause. Once Joey tore up a knee sliding into second base and had to call off an important fight thereby losing a big payday. He lived in the Philadelphia area most of this life and was a diehard Phillies fan but having been born in Brooklyn, the Dodgers were never far from his heart. Most of the 1950-era Dodgers were personal friends, Pee Wee Reese, Carl Erskine, Duke Snider, Dick Williams and Tommy Lasorda. Many years ago, Joey and Tommy were inducted into the National Italian America Sports Hall of Fame together.
Joey Giardello bled “Dodger Blue” as well as Lasorda, so I’m convinced that he would have been mightily disappointed in Tommy’s apparent indifference to the Philadelphia honor that he so nonchalantly accepted.
Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Class VI: 2009:
Larry Bowa, John Cappelletti, Eddie Collins, Joey Giardello, Charlie Jenkins, Judy Johnson, Neil Johnston, Tommy Lasorda, 1974-75 Philadelphia Flyers, Pete Retzlaff, Betty Shellenberger, Mel Sheppard, Emlen Tunnell, Bill Conlin and Merrill Reese.