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Lasorda having a tough time

by Jack Gallagher

OSAKA — Tommy Lasorda, the man who won the World Series twice as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the gold medal last year as the skipper of the U.S. team at the Sydney Games, loves the history of baseball.

That’s why, in his new role as a special adviser to the Kintetsu Buffaloes, he’s having a tough time these days.

As Buffs slugger Tuffy Rhodes closes in on Japan’s all-time single season home run record of 55 set by Sadaharu Oh in 1964, Lasorda finds himself rooting for Rhodes, who currently has 53, but wincing at the fact that the legend’s record might be broken.

“To see him (Rhodes) approaching this record is great. But I am a traditionalist, and just like I didn’t like to see Babe Ruth’s home run record be broken, I don’t like to see Sadaharu Oh’s record be broken,” Lasorda said Monday at the Osaka Dome after Kintetsu’s 5-3 victory over Lotte. “But records are made to be broken.”

During his long tenure as a player, coach and manager for the Dodgers, Lasorda had the chance to get to know the former Yomiuri Giants superstar.

“Sadaharu Oh is a friend of mine. To me, he is the Babe Ruth of Japan and I would love for him to continue (to hold the record). I would like for him (Rhodes) to maybe tie it or something,” Lasorda said with a laugh.

Lasorda says that since coming on board with the Buffaloes he has learned that Rhodes is not only an outstanding baseball player.

“He’s a tremendous hitter. His performance this year has been amazing. But more importantly, what I’ve discovered is what a tremendous person he is. He has great character. He gets along with everybody. He’s just a great human being.”