Sewickley Academy striker Lasorda shines on pitch, diamond
Sewickley Academy senior Tommy Lasorda has been a soccer and a baseball player since he could walk.
He got into soccer because it was a favorite childhood sport of his older brother, David.
He got into baseball because it's in his blood.
Lasorda is the great nephew of and shares a name with legendary Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. He grew up playing second base and center field, and last spring was an all-section center fielder for Sewickley Academy.
Despite growing up in Western Pennsylvania, Lasorda considers himself a lifelong Dodgers fan.
“I have to,” he said. “I bleed Dodger blue.”
A wall in Lasorda's room is dedicated to his great uncle, and the two Tommys usually see each other two to three times a year.
There's some pressure in being the Tommy Lasorda to follow the one with 1,599 managerial wins. Some of it is applied, in jest, by the elder Lasorda himself.
“Every time I see him, he always says, ‘That's the best name you could possibly have. You have to live up to my legacy,' ” Lasorda said. “So, yeah, he made me understand that was an important name.”
The senior with the important name entered the 2016 soccer season with an important job: taking over a Sewickley Academy forward position vacated by Matt Teitelbaum, who scored 44 goals and added 23 assists during a senior season in which the Panthers won the PIAA Class A title.
So far, the shift has been seamless. In Sewickley's 12-0 win over Mohawk last Tuesday, he led the Panthers with five goals.
A major reason for the position change, coach James Boone said, was Lasorda's reliability near the net. Given the opportunity to play striker late last season, Lasorda gave the Panthers more firepower on offense, scoring one of Sewickley Academy's three goals against East Juniata in the PIAA Class A final.
“When we did experiment putting him up as a forward, just not throughout the WPIAL playoffs but even the state playoffs, he was consistent,” Boone said. “He always had a nose to find the ball, and he was always in a position that made him dangerous.”
It also helps that Lasorda has played for years on the same team as his fellow seniors, including starters Paul Chropek, Mike Napoleone and Ben Mulholland.
“We've had an indoor soccer team where it's just us that we've played since we were, I don't know, 5 years old,” Lasorda said. “We have great chemistry with each other. We're all really, really good friends, so it's easy to play with everyone on the team.”
There are a few skills he has been able to translate from soccer to baseball and vice-versa. He finds his soccer footwork comes in handy when a fly ball is hit over his head or to one of the gaps and that soccer speed work comes in handy on the basepaths.
From the day Lasorda could understand what baseball was, people have been telling him about his uncle and his achievements in baseball. With those stories, and with his name, came an understanding that he would play two sports. That was fine by him.
“It's not a challenge for me to play both. It's fun, if anything,” Lasorda said. “Everyone's always expected me to play baseball, but I love it, too.”