Leadership principles from a baseball legend

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Robert Gunn
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
"All of these people sitting here--they want people to be proud of them. They want their families to be proud of them," said Tommy Lasorda as he spoke of the Airmen sitting at his table for lunch.

I had a few moments to speak with Lasorda, in between him signing baseballs and enjoying his food at Club Altus. I'm not big into baseball, nor am I a Dodgers fan, but he did play for the Yankees in 1956, so we had some common ground.

Earlier, Lasorda spoke to Airmen at Altus AFB on two occasions conveying his appreciation to the men and women in uniform and relaying his leadership philosophy through what were perhaps some of the best stories to pass through the base theater.

One particular story had Lasorda and the manager of the Cincinnati Reds at the same church right before a big game. As the service came to an end, the Reds manager lit a candle. Lasorda, realizing this, doubled back and blew the candle out as he left the church, effectively sealing the fate of the Reds that evening.

"I knew it wasn't for a dead relative," said Lasorda. "And you have to do what you have to do to win."

The theater erupted with laughter.

On a serious note, it was easy to find parallels to military life in these baseball parables.

"I wanted my players to know who they were playing for--the name on the front of their jersey, not the one on the back," he said candidly. "I told them you all have to get on one side of the rope, and pull together."

It can sometimes be pretty easy to get on the other side of the rope and pull. That's why Tommy's leadership philosophy about staying motivated really hit home for me, and hopefully the others who had a chance to hear him speak.

We all have the name "U.S Air Force" on the front of our camouflaged jerseys, and sticking together and pulling for the team makes us the most successful in the business. There's a lot to be proud of here at Altus--the mission, the community and the camaraderie.

When asked what he would like Airmen to take away from his visit, Lasorda said, "I would hope that they understand what I was trying to tell them--they represent our country and the highest degree of class. As long as you're with the Air Force, you certainly have to be proud to be a part of it."