The ‘Picturing America’s Pastime’ exhibit at the Fullerton Museum Center ‘knocks it out of the park’

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For Laura Lasorda, the story of her father, Tommy Lasorda, isn’t just a baseball story.

“What I like historically about my father is that his principles on the field are applicable to life. It’s more than a game,” she said.

Tommy Lasorda, who died in 2021, was a Dodgers icon, but he was also a family man who called Fullerton home. The Fullerton Museum Center is honoring him by including “Lasorda Legacy: A Tribute to Baseball & Dodgers Legend Tommy Lasorda” in its current exhibit, “Picturing America’s Pastime.”

Open through December 31, Picturing America’s Pasttime features 51 framed photographs from the National Baseball Hall of Fame inducting Tommy Lasorda in 1997.

Vintage baseball photographs include Kansas City Monarchs pitcher Satchel Paige in September 1941, right, the Eastern League Ottawa Baseball Club in August 1898, top left, and young fans questioning an umpire’s decision at Yankee Stadium in September 1947, Exhibited in “Picturing America’s Pastime,” an exhibit at the Fullerton Museum Center.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Picturing America’s Pasttime includes work by photographers such as Charles M. Conlon, Carl J. Horner, Arthur Rothstein, William C. Greene and Brad Mangin, while the adjacent Lasorda exhibit highlights the legend’s career as a player, coach and manager with artwork . Photos and memorabilia of the Lasorda family.

“The Fullerton Museum did a great job,” said Laura Lasorda. “Aside from just being about baseball, I think it’s also about history and the parallels between what was happening in history at the same time these things were happening in baseball.”

For example, Tommy Lasorda played with Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider. He influenced players like Fernando Valenzuela and Chan Ho Park who made their own mark on Major League Baseball. In addition to leading the Dodgers to eight National League West titles, four National League pennants and two World Series championships, he also led the US national team at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

“It’s special in different ways for everyone who looks at it,” Laura Lasorda said of the exhibition. “Everyone has a connection in one way or another.”

Portraits of Los Angeles Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda on display at the Fullerton Museum Center.  (Kevin Chang / TimesOC)

Portraits of Los Angeles Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda, Hall of Fame Manager, on display in the Picturing America’s Pastime exhibit at the Fullerton Museum Center.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

In addition to the exhibit, the Fullerton Museum Center and the City of Fullerton are co-hosting the second annual special memorial service honoring Tommy Lasorda on Thursday, September 22nd. The outdoor street fair and celebration includes food and art vendors, as well as a beer garden, pop-up art activities and a panel discussion featuring baseball authors including Chris Epting, author of Baseball in Orange County. Epting has been working with the Lasorda family on an unnamed project for about four years.

“He was football’s most important ambassador alongside Babe Ruth. The Pope wanted to meet him,” Epting said. “Wherever he went, he understood his role in spreading the game.”

Epting, like Laura Lasorda, also acknowledges that the Dodgers giant was a family man devoted to his wife and children.

“They lived in Fullerton for almost 60 years and never left. The same house. Everything,” said Epting.

The Lasorda Legacy exhibition begins with images of Tommy Lasorda with his wife Jo and what Epting refers to as the story within the story.

“Tommy would be the first to say to you, ‘No Jo, no Tommy,'” Epting said.

Laura Lasorda said that although baseball took him around the world, his home was always where his family was.

“All his travels, everyone he met — he always came back to my mother, and they were married for over 70 years,” she said. “It was an amazing love story.”

Epting also points out that there are many lesser-known connections between Major League Baseball and Orange County to explore at the exhibit.

Vintage photographs of Baseball Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda on display at the Fullerton Museum Center.

Vintage photographs of Baseball Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda on display at the Fullerton Museum Center.

(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“The beauty of this exhibit is that there are certain personalities like Satchel Paige, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, true legends of the game who were actually in Fullerton at certain points in time,” said Epting. “There’s a kind of untold local history.”

Other programs planned around the exhibition include a baseball and brews event with a screening of “A League of Their Own” in November.

Laura Lasorda said she was honored that the city of Fullerton was commemorating her father in this way. “I find [the exhibit] is something everyone should see,” she said. “The museum did an amazing job.”

Epting agrees that the museum has managed to capture the true love of the game.

“I am very grateful to the museum. It’s a piece of the Hall of Fame that’s coming to you, and that’s a wonderful thing, with the Lasorda stuff on top,” Epting said. “They really made it out of the park, as they say.”

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