A young Zack Minasian with his father, Edward Minasian

Zack Minasian Publishes Memoirs on Mentor Tommy Lasorda

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Zack Minasian grew up like many young men in the 1960’s, loving baseball.

Lucky for Zack, having a father like Edward Minasian who worked as the banquet and catering manager at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles provided access to some big names in the sports and entertainment industries, including Tommy Lasorda.

Tommy, who would later go on to become a Hall of Fame baseball manager with the Los Angeles Dodgers for 20 years, started out his career managing the minor league Ogden Dodgers in the Pioneer League. A friendship was struck between Edward and Tommy, who requested Edward’s son, Zack, to spend the summer in Ogden, Utah running the clubhouse. Zack was only fifteen years old at the time.

Kevork and Yagsa Minasian, 1924

The rest is history and baseball became part of Zack’s life and the family business.

Fifty-five years after that summer of 1968 with the Ogden Dodgers, Minasian wrote a memoir about this time which was recently published as Lasorda University: A Recollection of My Summer of ’68 with Tommy Lasorda and the Ogden Dodgers.

The book provides more than 100 photos and a rare glimpse into the magical season along with recounting many recollections from Lasorda including life and leadership lessons, as well as insights into Lasorda’s motivational tactics.

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As a young clubhouse manager, Minasian witnessed several future baseball superstars including Steve Garvey, Bobby Valentine, Tom Paciorek and Bill Buckner, all young, raw, inexperienced players at the time. That summer in 1968 was only the beginning of Minasian’s love of baseball and benefiting from a lifelong father figure in Lasorda.

Compiling and writing the book took Minasian down memory lane with many of the players from that summer in Ogden. While seven of the players have passed away, Minasian was able to eventually connect with twenty-one to obtain their personal recollections of Lasorda and the impact he had on them. He had not spoken to some of the players since he was that young, fifteen-year-old clubhouse manager.

Needless to say, those calls included fond team memories and countless funny stories, many captured throughout the book. The overarching theme remained clear over the decades – the respect and admiration they shared for Lasorda who passed away in January 2021.

Little did they all know at the time how that one summer in Ogden would change them all forever.

Zack Minasian in the clubhouse with President George W. Bush, former owner of the Texas Rangers

Beginnings

Zack is the grandson of Armenian Genocide survivors, Kevork Minasian and Yagsa Cholakian, both from Kharpert. Zack, an only child, was born in Chicago and early on moved with his parents and grandparents to Los Angeles, ultimately residing in Burbank, long before many Armenians lived there.

Zack recalls the impact his grandmother had on him, when his grandparents would speak Armenian to one another. He especially remembers her reiterating the importance of marrying an Armenian girl. Even when his grandmother passed away, he kept her in his heart and promised to fulfill her wishes.

Zack did just that when he met and later married Barbara Ipjian from St. James Armenian Church in Evanston, Illinois. Barbara came from an active family in the church which made Zack feel welcome into the Armenian community.

Zack and Barbara lived in Chicago and started a family where their four sons were born in Evanston. Then in 1988, Zack received a phone call to run the visiting team clubhouse for the Texas Rangers, handling everything from the food to equipment and uniforms. The family packed up and headed south to Texas to begin a professional baseball journey.

With many years of experience in Ogden as well as learning from the best with Lasorda, Minasian was known to be tough, but also a good guy who loved to talk and tell stories. One thing was for sure: there wasn’t any screwing around in Minasian’s clubhouse and all the players knew.

Tommy Lasorda spending time with the young Minasian boys at Wrigley Field (1985)

One never knew who was going to walk into his clubhouse. Prior to becoming the 43rd US President, George W. Bush, a part-owner of the Texas Rangers at one time, had a great relationship with Zack. The president would workout at the stadium and have many long chats afterwards. There was also the time Minasian warmed up legendary golfer Tiger Woods before the latter was to throw out the first pitch in 1995.

Zack’s four sons, Rudy, Perry, Calvin and Zack were often spotted in the clubhouse spending time with their father and the players as youngsters. Inevitably, Zack’s love of baseball wore off on his children.

Ogden Dodgers Big Four: from left, Bill Buckner, Tommy Lasorda, Steve Garvey and Bobby Valentine

It’s no surprise that three of Zack’s sons currently hold positions in Major League Baseball in various capacities: Perry as the General Manager for the Anaheim Angels; Calvin as the Director of Clubhouse and Equiptment with the Atlanta Braves; and Zack as the VP of Pro Scouting with the San Francisco Giants.

Minasian is proud of all his sons and their commitment to their professions. He knows his grandmother is especially proud and smiling down that two of his sons met their Armenian brides at Hye Camp in Ingleside, Illinois, which is organized by the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern).

To purchase the book, read sample chapters, or receive an autographed copy of Lasorda University visit www.Lasordauniverity.com and Amazon.com.

 

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