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Tommy Lasorda back in Knox, key to special ‘Rod’ anniversary

The Delmonicos are thoroughly immersed in Tommy Lasorda’s Dodger charm without complaint, even though one of them is a big New York Yankees fan.

Lasorda, Hall of Fame manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1977-1996), remembered Tony Delmonico from his last visit to Knox County exactly 10 years previous, greeting the ex-Farragut Admiral star and UT Freshman All-American shortstop by saying, “there’s a future Dodger. I haven’t seen you in a while.”

Tony, now a Vol sophomore, later said, “I can’t believe he remembers.”

Featured speaker at the 2007 Tennessee Leadoff Banquet at Knoxville Marriott Monday evening, Jan. 29, Lasorda’s return also marked a special anniversary for the Delmonicos: “It’s Joey’s birthday, the twenty-ninth,” said UT Baseball head coach Rod Delmonico about his “middle” son, Joey, a junior baseball player at Farragut High School whose birthday 10 years ago was remembered by Lasorda.

During a gathering Lasorda attended at Fox Den Country Club in 1997 prior to a UT banquet speech, “He gave Joey a little Dodger watch, which was kinda neat,” coach Delmonico said. “He’s still got it to this day. It was a neat time.

“You had Tommy coming in, uncle Tommy, for his birthday party. Not too many people can say they had Tommy Lasorda at their birthday party. He [Lasorda] referred to himself as uncle Tommy, which was really neat.”

A sheer coincidence that Lasorda was invited back on Joey’s birthday 10 years later, “How about that,” coach Delmonico said. “That just happened to be the date that we did it. I didn’t notice it until about a week ago, realizing that it’s [exactly] ten years later.

“I’ve got a picture of my three boys [Tony, Joey and youngest son, Nicky] at Fox Den” with Lasorda.

During the Fox Den gathering, Tony remembers Lasorda giving out “three autographs, and made reference to all three boys as ‘future Dodgers.’ … He was very energetic, just always talkative. He’s a social guy, a people guy.”

But Tony also admitted, “my favorite team’s the Yankees.”

Lasorda, whose first speech at the annual UT banquet came in 1994, had a packed house in the Marriott’s Mississippi Room constantly roaring with laughter during a 45-minute address.

The legendary manager and baseball ambassador told numerous stories that included poking fun at Steve Sax, former Dodger All-star second baseman, for his lack of intelligence.

Lasorda also advocated keeping a positive attitude in life, saying he’s one of the most optimistic people around, and encouraged Tennessee fans to support Delmonico’s Vols this season.


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