Tommy Lasorda should’ve followed Minnie Miñoso’s example of supporting his gay son
There’s a reason why Tommy Lasorda won National League Manager of the Year twice and Father of the Year never.
Lasorda was a homophobe. He made Glenn Burke’s life miserable during the outfielder’s time with the Dodgers and was consistently hostile to any LGBTQ advocacy group that wanted to work with his team.
And, as we remembered last week, Lasorda loudly and profanely denied that his son was gay, even after Tommy Jr. died prematurely of AIDS-related complications at age 33.
During his son’s life, Tommy Sr.’s homophobia did not take the form you would ordinarily associate with a famous baseball celebrity of an older generation.
Following Tommy Jr.’s death, GQ’s Peter Richmond wrote an exploration of their relationship and given what we know about his dad’s views, it’s surprisingly filled with testimonials from friends of both Senior and Junior like “Everyone should know that there is this Tom [Sr.] who really loved his son” and “[Tommy Jr.] talked lovingly about his father and their relationship—they had a very good relationship.”
But throughout the piece, those assertions are undermined by repeated references to Tommy Jr.’s emotional fragility as he tried to live out the image of a West Hollywood club legend. As filmmaker and confidante Penelope Spheeris summed it up:
“He walked around with a big smile on his face, as if everything was great because he had everything around him to prove it was great. But I don’t think it was...when you’re that sad, you have to cover up a lot of pain. But he didn’t admit it.”
It’s not too hard to conclude that Tommy Sr.’s homophobia was a factor in his son’s underlying sadness. And Richmond got to the heart of the matter when he quoted a WeHo companion of Tommy Jr.’s:
“I think he wanted to make his father happy. But he didn’t know how to. He wanted to be more macho but he didn’t know how to. He wanted to please his dad. He wished he could have liked girls. He tried.”
There it is. For all the images friends tried to paint of father and son getting along well, it was always perfectly clear that underneath the surface-level affection, Tommy Lasorda never accepted his son for who he was. That’s heartbreaking and infuriating.