The Lasorda/Kennedy conspiracy
UPDATED TWICE, TO REFLECT "FACTS": If we know any two things to be true, it's that Bobby Kennedy was shot at the Ambassador Hotel just after midnight on June
6 4 5, 1968, and also that Dodger Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda is a ... storyteller without peer. How do these two factoids merge? Take it away, Tommy!
It just so happens that I was supposed to be at that dinner. My wife Jo, and I, ate lunch at the Ambassador that afternoon, and my good friend Zach Manasian, who was the food and beverage manager, told me that Kennedy wanted to meet me and talk to me, which was an invitation I was honored to accept.
Before going to the dinner though, I planned to going to the Dodger game because Don Drysdale was on the mound and besides him being one of my favorite pitchers, and a great friend, he was going for his sixth straight shutout. His scoreless innings pitched streak was the big topic in baseball, and I wanted to be on hand to watch. 58 2/3 scoreless innings was amazing.
As I dressed that morning, I put on a brand new pair of shoes. They were CoreFam shoes, and as I wore them around that day, they really started to hurt my feet. So much so, that I had to leave the game, and I walked to my car with the CoreFam's in my hand. That's how badly they hurt.
We decided to skip the dinner at the Ambassador. When we got home, we turned on the TV and saw that Kennedy had been shot.
It was a night of mixed emotions. While I was happy for Big Don, I was sad and angry about the assassination. No matter what your politics are, or which party you align yourself with, an assassination of any elected official, or national leader, is tragic.
Leaving aside the creepiness of that last paragraph, there are only
four three things wrong with that story, as pointed out by the smartasses at Baseball Primer: 1) Don Drysdale didn't pitch on June 6, he pitched on June 8.
1) Tommy Lasorda that year managed a team in ... Ogden, Utah.
2) Why would the Next President of the United States single out a little-known minor league manager for a meet-and-greet on a day of some, you know, importance?
3) Would Tommy ever actually turn down a free meal, no matter how tight his shoes were that day?
UPDATE -- COMPLICATING THE ISSUE ... AND THE ALIBI:
* So yes, Drysdale did pitch that day, contrary to the original post. But it was a night game. Retrosheet, however, doesn't list the starting time; if weeknight games started the same as now, it would have been 7:00 or 7:30 ... which means Tommy would have been late for dinner in the best case. A 5:30 game, though, would have him out the door by 7:50....
* Kennedy was shot just after midnight. Tommy testifies that "When we got home, we turned on the TV and saw that Kennedy had been shot." Keep in mind that he left the game early, because of "hurt feet." Even assuming that the start time was 7:30, what was Tommy Lasorda doing between 9:30 and midnight?? Surely traffic wasn't that bad in the summer of '68, no matter how bad the hippies were.
* Yes, Tommy managed the Ogden Dodgers that year (you'll want to stop at this point, and click on that link), but the season probably didn't start until late June, giving Tommy access to the scene of the crime. OK, here's an excerpt from that story about one of the finest rookie-ball teams ever assembled:
Bill Buckner, another talent on the team, remembered his first exposure to Lasorda. He was eighteen when he flew to Salt Lake City and went straight to Affleck Park in Ogden for an intra-squad game. Lasorda was pitching, and Buckner hit a double off the wall his first time up. When he stopped at second, Lasorda threw down his glove and told him he would slit Buckner's throat if he did that again
UPDATE 3: Make sure to read some more good sleuthery in the comments.