The stretch of the 5 Freeway where Tommy Lasorda began his travels to Dodger Stadium and left after games now bears his name.
Twenty-seven miles southeast of what Lasorda called “Blue Heaven on Earth” is the “Tommy Lasorda Dodger Legend Memorial Highway.”
The two green highway signs are already on the 5 Freeway in Fullerton, near the former Dodgers manager’s old home. The signs are on the northbound and southbound lanes between Lincoln Avenue and Ball Road.
On Saturday, the late Lasorda will be recognized in a ceremony featuring his daughter, Laura, former Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros, the 1992 National League Rookie of the Year under Lasorda, and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silver (D-Fullerton). The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. and is part of the West Fullerton Little League opening day festivities at James Carter Field at 1015 West Hill Ave. in Fullerton.
Lasorda was a supporter and benefactor of the West Fullerton Little League and surrounding parks.
The ceremony marks the culmination of AKR 67, a bill sponsored by Quirk-Silva and co-author of Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) in 2021 in memory of Lasorda, who has lived in Fullerton since 1958. The legislation was written shortly after Lasorda’s death in January 2021 from sudden cardiac arrest. He turned 93.
Though Lasorda was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Quirk-Silver said many in Fullerton considered the former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher “a hometown hero.”
“We remember Tommy as a man of the community,” Quirk-Silver said. “There was a good chance you’d see him in town, probably get a pizza from Giovanni’s.”
In 1976, Lasorda spoke at Nicolas Junior High School in Fullerton and donated dozens of tickets to his instructor friend Jim Schlotthauer. The social sciences and speech teacher, who taught at the school from 1960 to 2004, in turn invited a group of six students to an upcoming game.
One such student was Quirk-Silver, who enjoyed the view of Dodger heartthrob Steve Garvey and her first Dodger Dog during her inaugural visit to the stadium.
Quirk-Silver said she was “forever grateful” for the experience, which endeared her to the manager.
The awards are one of many honors Fullerton bestowed on Lasorda and his family.
The Fullerton Museum just concluded a three-month exhibit on Dec. 31 titled “Picturing America’s Pastime,” with a section dedicated to Lasorda.
The city has also hosted successive street festivals in 2021 and 2022, in honor of Lasorda on his birthday in September.
The Dodgers provide some of the funding for the signs.
“Fullerton held a very special place in Tommy’s heart and we know how proud he would be to stand here today,” Stan Kasten, president and CEO of the Dodgers, said in a statement.
Lasorda led the Dodgers to World Series titles in 1981 and 1988, four National League pennants, eight division titles and 1,599 wins.