Editor’s note: Kody Acevedo, a senior in the Sports Journalism program at ASU and a regular contributor to Wrangler News, wrote the following column for USA Today’s sports site. We felt our Wrangler News audience might appreciate reading Kody’s first-person observations of a baseball great. And, of course, to know that our young contributors have, over the years, made a significant mark in their chosen field of journalism. Reprinted here by permission
By Kody Acevedo
TEMPE – Tommy Lasorda never bled Angel red, but his influence flows deep in the veins of the Angels clubhouse. Lasorda, the Hall of Fame manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, managed current Angels manager Mike Scioscia for 15 years. Scioscia himself is entering his 18th season as a big league manager, all with the Angels.
“I never really thought (about) the length,” Scioscia said. “You have to focus on the process, just like a player.”
Scioscia is the longest-tenured manager in the major leagues. The next longest big league tenure belongs to Bruce Bochy, manager of the San Francisco Giants since 2007.
When he arrived in Anaheim in 2000, Scioscia had never managed in the big leagues. The Angels skipper credits his original coaching staff for laying the foundation of his success in those early years.
“I think all of us that were here – Joe (Maddon), Ron (Roenicke), Bud (Black), Mickey (Hatcher) and all the guys – I think we did a good job of laying out that process as a staff of what we needed to be,” Scioscia said.
Of those members of his original staff, three of them went on the become big league managers themselves. Maddon went to Tampa Bay and then led the Chicago Cubs to their first world championship last season. Black was recently hired to manage the Colorado Rockies after almost nine seasons in San Diego.
Roenicke spent four-and-a-half seasons as the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers (2011-2015) before returning to his role as the Angels third base coach. Like Scioscia, he entered the big leagues influenced by Lasorda’s style of managing.
“Part of this stuff that we do in the clubhouse, Mike learned from Tommy, I learned from Tommy — how to work hard, but also enjoy what we’re doing,” he said.
Roenicke said that while Lasorda rubbed off on Scioscia, they’re completely different people and don’t necessarily have the same managerial style.
“Tommy was really fun to play for – great motivator,” Roenicke said. “Scioscia is more technical. His game management is so on top of different things that they’re kind of a different personality.”
Roenicke admires Scioscia’s attention to detail and ability to bring out the natural talents of his players.
“Obviously he’s got a great baseball mind, but he’s got a really big heart,” Roenicke said. “When you’re on the opposing side, it looks like he’s just this intense guy all the time. But I know what he’s like behind the scenes, and I really enjoy it.”
Those are traits Roenicke knew would make Scioscia a successful manager. Even back in their playing days with Lasorda, Roenicke knew Scioscia’s mind worked differently than the average player.
“By the time we got to the big leagues and sat there with Lasorda and (Joey) Amalfitano and those guys, his mind was so good that he was already doing things that I saw that I said ‘wow, this guy, he’s ahead of all of this,’ ” Roenicke said.
Under Scioscia, the Angels have experienced the winningest 17-year span in their history that includes a World Series championship in 2002. He has a 1490-1264 record as the Angels skipper and is the only active manager with at least 1,000 wins with their current team.
He is also just the third manager to lead his first club for at least 17 consecutive seasons, joining Walter Alston (23 years with the Dodgers) and his former mentor, Lasorda (20 years).
For Scioscia, it’s simply a love that never grows old.
“I love the dugout,” he said. “I love when the game starts. I love practice. I love everything about it.”