Editor’s Note: Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, who took the Dodgers to two World Series title and became a baseball legend, died Friday at the age of 93.
But Lasorda once played himself and, as a Phillies minor leaguer in 1948, he pitched for the old Schenectady Blue Jays at McNearney stadium. The stadium was where Stadium Golf Club is now.
But in one night as a 20-year-old, Lasorda’s legend began as he struck out 25 batters in one 15-inning game, a performance the Sporting News later called “one of the greatest pitching performances in minor league history.”
The Daily Gazette went back Friday and found our original coverage of that May 31, 1948 game against the Amsterdam Rugmakers – from June 1, 1948 – and is reproducing it below.
One big note: Lasorda is already “Tommy,” but he’s not yet “Lasorda,” he’s “LaSorda.”
One other note: The historic aspect of the game – Lasorda’s 25 strikeouts – isn’t in the main headline. It’s in the subhead. Lasorda’s batting prowess, the walk-off single for the “payoff tally,” got the headline.
LaSorda Singles in 15th to Give Jays Victory Over Amsterdam
Tommy Fans 25 Ruggies In 6-5 Win
June 1, 1948
By Jack Hugerich
Tommy LaSorda, the Blue Jays’ only left-handed hurler, pitched and batted the Schenectady club to a thrilling 6 to 5, 15-inning decision over the Amsterdam Rugmakers in the second game of a holiday doubleheader at McNearney stadium before 4,064 fans last night. The victory gave the Jays a clean sweep of the twin-bill after an 11 to 5 triumph at Amsterdam in the afternoon.
LaSorda came through with a single to left field with two men on base in the bottom half of the 15th for the payoff tally.
Sets League Record
Going the full route on the mound, the Jays southpaw set down 25 Amsterdam batters via the strikeout route to set a new league record for the number of strikeouts in one game. The previous mark of 22 was set by Earl Jones with Gloversville against Rome in 1942.
Every player on the Rugmakers’ team felt the sting of LaSorda’s strikeout pitch, and Tommy struck out George Morehouse in six of the seven times the Amsterdam left fielder faced him. From the second through the ninth innings, LaSorda completed the inning by fanning a Rugmaker player, he struck out six straight batters in the eighth, nine, and 10th.
Fred Prior, Amsterdam right-hander, also lasted the full 15 innings and likewise turned in a brilliant performance. Prior held the Jays to five hits for 10 frames and gave up 11 safeties over the route.
Two Jay Homers
Two Blue Jay home runs in the 12th stanza continued to prolong the game after Amsterdam tallied twice in its half of the inning. Larry Rush led off the 12th with an inside-the-park homer when Centerfielder Joe Ferra failed to make a shoe string catch, and Ernie Woods came up with another which sailed 360 feet over the right field fence.
The Jays threatened to end the game in the 11th when Mike Genevrino singled and Joe Palkovitz and John Oldak walked to fill the bases with one out. But a spectacular play by Shortstop Gordie Johnston cut off Genevrino with a run at the plate and Johnny McCullough popped to second to end the inning.
Schenectady opened the scoring in the initial innings when McCullough and Larry Rush both walked and were advanced by Freddy Speranza’s sacrifice. McCullough scored on Woods’ infield single.
Amsterdam knotted the score with a run in the third on two bases on balls and a single by Joe Kosinski. The Ruggies went ahead in the fourth when Gordie Johnston walked and Chris Danish homered over the left field fence.
Jays Deadlock Score
Not to be outdone, Schenectady tallied twice in the fifth to send the game into overtime and the longest game ever played at McNearney stadium. Palkovitz opened the fifth with a double to left center and La Sorda singled to left to score the Jay third baseman. Rush then poled out a triple to left center to bring home LaSorda with the tying run.
Amsterdam scored twice in the 12th on a single by Morehouse, a walk to Joe Ferra and a two-bagger by Gordie Johnston. However, Rush’s and Woods’ fore-masters knotted the count in the bottom half of the inning.
Genevrino opened the Schenectady half of the 15th with an infield single. After Palkovitz popped to second, Oldak singled and LaSorda followed with another one-baser to score the winning marker.
Win Easily in Afternoon
A four-run first inning and a six-run sixth frame proved enough for the Jays to win over Amsterdam in the afternoon tilt at the Carpet City, but Schenectady added another insurance marker in the ninth.
Schenectady copped three of the four games in the two-day series, and have been defeated only once by the Rugmakers in six meetings this season.