Mike LaSorsa, 1960 captain, dies at age 77

Mike LaSorsa, a Korean War veteran who came to Tennessee as a walk-on football player and finished his career as captain of the 1960 team, died Saturday at his Knoxville home, after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 77.

Mr. LaSorsa started at left end in 1959 and 1960, playing at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, and wearing No. 81 on his orange and white jersey. He was 25 years old his senior season in Knoxville.

"We've been the best of friends over the years," teammate Lon Herzbrun, who played at Tennessee 1955-57, said. "He was a very competitive and caring person. We coached together at Fulton High School and played together on the Knoxville Bears. I never had an argument with him."

Mr. LaSorsa was a native of Hudson Falls, N.Y., who attended Providence (R. I.) Central High. He was "discovered" while in the Army by former Vols Bill "Moose" Barbish and Jimmy Hahn.

He arrived on campus as a freshman in 1956 behind 125 scholarship players, giving up a job in Providence unloading 100-pound bags of cement out of boxcars. He had no idea of what to expect, except that we was looking for a coach named Ralph Chancey.

He redshirted in 1957, continued his climb up the depth chart, and finished his time as a Vol as a third-team All-SEC selection in 1960. One of his most memorable moments came when he returned a fumble 40 yards for a score in the 1960 Alabama game, highlighting a 20-7 Vol victory.

He also caught a TD pass in the 1958 Vanderbilt game from tailback Bill Majors, giving the Vols a 10-6 victory over the No. 15-ranked Commodores and knocking them out of a Gator Bowl trip. He caught 16 passes during his career for 162 yards and one score.

He joins J.J. McCleskey (1992) and Nick Reveiz (2009-10) as walk-ons who made it to be named team captain.

After leaving the University of Tennessee, Mr. LaSorsa went on to a 33-year teaching career at Knoxville's Fulton, South-Young and South-Doyle high schools, teaching geography, health and driver's education. He also coached golf and baseball. He also started the Fulton High Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) chapter.

How competitive was he?

When a fight broke out on Shields-Watkins Field during the 1962 Ole Miss game, nearly two years after his last game as a Vol, Mr. LaSorsa went wading into the fray brandishing an umbrella.

Services for Mr. LaSorsa will be Wednesday morning at 10:30 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 414 W. Vine Avenue in downtown Knoxville.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 8

seadaddy writes:

May your family find peace during this difficult time.

vol64 writes:

Mr LaSorsa was my student assistant PE instrutor in the fall of 1959; my freshman year at UT. Mr. Sam Venable was the instructor. I still remember both after all these years as they made a very green, wet behind the years, 18 year old feel welcome at UT. They were fine gentleman and a credit to UT.

Millisa writes:

The LaSorsa family has my prayers.

cneagle37 writes:

Coach LaSorsa was a great guy who had a great positive influence on many young men. I played for him and have many great memories. He was intense and passionate about everything he did. Me along with many other people were truely blessed to have had him as a role model. He will be missed.

Strap writes:

I'm glad the umbrella was remembered. That was a particularly nasty Saturday afternoon and we were greatly overmatched against a very good Ole Miss team for homecoming. I was co-chair of homecoming that year and in the driving rain just before kickoff I announced over the stadium p.a. system that we were going to "Queen the Crown". I think that was the last time they left that task to a student. We didn't win the game, but thanks to Mike we definately won the fight!

My codolences to family and friends.

Strap

madmax22 writes:

I was siting in the bleachers in north endzone for that Ole Miss game when the fight broke out. I remember the picture in the KNS on Sunday Morning showing LaSorsa swing his umbrella.

BuckFama writes:

I regret that I never met Mr. LaSorsa, but having had the privilege of knowing his son and D-I-L, Scott & Cathy, and having coached his grandson Mason for several years, I can imaging that he was a great fellow. I know that his presence will be missed, but his legacy will live on.

Many prayers to his family. And I hope that Mike enjoys his reunion with all of his team mates who have been waiting for him in heaven!

Go Vols!

rubbervol writes:

RIP Coach...Go Falcons

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features