After Erskine, resplendent in his No. 17 Dodgers uniform, performed the anthem, Dick Crago, Holman Stadium's P.A. announcer for 40 years, welcomed the last crowd:"One more time. ... Welcome to another fine day of baseball at Holman Stadium ..." Then Crago was introducing Lasorda, who had to wait out another long ovation from the sellout crowd of 7,327 before stepping closer to the microphone waiting for him to the left of home plate. "You're going to make me cry, huh?" Lasorda began. Sounding as vibrant as ever, he continued, "I can't find the words to express my feeling for all of you people. We are going to leave, but we will have the memories forever. God bless you." Then they played another game, a wind-blown affair of home runs, rallies and obsession. Los Angeles starters Rafael Furcal and Andre Ethier put in rarities, full nine innings of an exhibition. They talked their ways into that -- they wanted to send off Lasorda, and Dodgertown, with a win. The pair did its part, combining to go 7-for-11, scoring five runs and driving in four. "They had their choice, and they wanted to stay," Schaefer said. "They really wanted to win the last game here." In one sense, Monday morning had been like any other for Lasorda. "When I woke up this morning, I felt blue," said baseball's 80-year-old ambassador. "I know I'll be leaving -- this place, these people, the church I've attended -- for the last time. It's sad. Will I ever get to Vero Beach again? "It's a sad day, but it had to happen. It's the right thing to do, to make our Los Angeles fans happy, and it's something we'll have to accept." At 4:10 p.m. ET on March 17, 2008, Carlos Hines made Holman Stadium's last pitch and Furcal ground it to second baseman Danny Klassen. The Dodgers players formed their gauntlet, and Tina Turner sang through the speakers, "You're simply the best ..." Lasorda stopped for one more look around. On Tuesday morning, the Dodgers will bus to Jupiter, Fla., for a final Grapefruit League game, against the Marlins, then continue on to a plane to Phoenix, Ariz. "Today is tough," Lasorda said. "Tomorrow will be worse."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.