Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Smithsonian to present Lasorda portrait

Former Dodgers skipper to be honored on 82nd birthday
By Rhett Bollinger /

Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda received yet another honor as it was announced Wednesday that the his portrait will be presented at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

Lasorda, who is also the Dodgers' special advisor to the chairman, will see the portrait unveiled in a ceremony on Sept. 22, Lasorda's 82nd birthday, in the Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium.

The portrait is a part of the tribute to his 60 years with the Dodgers and his life in baseball. The portrait, measuring 60 by 50 inches, was painted by Everett Raymond Kinstler and will be on view in the museum's "New Arrivals."

"I am proud and honored by this very special recognition," Lasorda said in a statement. "I have been honored many times in the past, and am appreciative of them all, but to be included in the National Portrait Gallery is very special, and very humbling."

The Smithsonian is no stranger to baseball-related art, but to be included in the National Portrait Gallery's permanent collection an individual must be of national significance. And that candidate must first be approved by the Gallery's curators and historians, the director and deputy director, and then voted on by the Portrait Gallery's Commission for inclusion in the permanent collection.

Lasorda, though, passed through the approval stage and now will join other Dodgers stars who have their picture in the collection: Don Drysdale (1962), Leo Durocher (1947 & '63), Walter Alston (in a gelatin silver print with Casey Stengel and Dwight Eisenhower, 1956 and with Casey Stengel, 1956), Sandy Koufax (1963), Gil Hodges (with John Reardon, Ed Fitzgerald and Charles Edwards, 1947), Branch Rickey (1945), Jackie Robinson (1947, '49, '83), Wilbert Robinson (1930) and the 1955 Dodgers team photo (1955).

Lasorda has long been an ambassador of baseball, as he has met seven United States Presidents and traveled to 23 countries to promote the sport. He has also visited 40 U.S. military bases around the world to give motivational speeches.

Lasorda is also just one of four skippers to manage the same team for 20 years or more, as he managed the Dodgers for exactly 20 years, winning two World Series titles along the way in 1981 and 1988. Lasorda was then elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in his first year of eligibility in 1997.

Lasorda sat for his portrait with Kinstler, who has painted more than 1,200 portraits of well-known personalities and public figures, at Kinstler's National Arts Club studio in New York City in June.

The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery tells the history of America through the individuals who have shaped its culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays American icons whose lives tell the American story. The National Portrait Gallery opened to the public in 1968. The museum's collection of more than 20,000 works includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings and new media.

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