Journey to the Top Finally Ends for Dodgers’ John Lindsey

by Chuck

Before one can reach the end of a journey, there must first be a beginning. For John Lindsey, his journey began in 1995, when the 6′3″ first baseman out of Hattiesburg High School in Mississippi was Colorado Rockies thirteenth round pick in the June draft.

Lindsey’s pro career started off the same as most every other draftee, with an assignment to Rookie ball. Six seasons later, Lindsey found himself, at age 24, a minor league free agent who had just completed his THIRD season of Class A ball, playing for Salem in the Northwest League.

Lindsey signed with the Seattle Mariners following the 2001 season, and despite two decent seasons at Double A San Antonio, found himself released and unemployed, and with no real job prospects at age 27.

Signing on with the Independent Can-Am League’s New Jersey Jackals, Lindsey posted a .321/9/62 slash line in 56 games and found himself back in pro ball with the Florida Marlins’ Jupiter franchise in the FSL.

Released again following the season, Lindsey went back to the Jackals, where he spent the entire 2006 season.

Lindsey signed with the Dodgers for 2007, and despite a .321/46/188 split over two seasons at Triple A Las Vegas, found himself again unemployed.

Heading into 2009, the now 32 year old Lindsey found himself back in the Marlins’ organization, spending the year in Triple A New Orleans, where he didn’t play overly well, and was once again handed a pink slip.

Heading into the 2010 season, Lindsey had played 1463 minor league games over fifteen seasons and had never tasted major league action, not even in spring training. Never once appearing on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list, the writing on the wall was becoming clear for him, with a two year old son, maybe it was time to give his dream of reaching the major leagues one more shot, then maybe look at career options outside of baseball.

Back in the Dodgers organization for 2010, something happened, maybe playing for his son made the difference, but Lindsey posted a .353/25/97 line in Triple A with an OPS of 1.057, despite missing a month with an injury. Lindsey’s .353 not only led the Pacific Coast League, but ALL of Minor League Baseball, as did his .657 slugging percentage.

The reward?

After 16 minor league seasons, a span of over half his life, over 1500 career minor league games, John Lindsey was called up to the major leagues for the first time in his life.

Lindsey made his major league debut, albeit an unconventional one, this past Wednesday in San Diego against the Padres. Announced as a pinch-hitter for Scott Podsednik, Padres manager Bud Black went to the bullpen, bringing in a righthander, Dodgers manager Joe Torre countered the move, replacing the already announced Lindsey with lefty Andre Ethier.

“If it was the last game of the season I would have felt bad”, Torre said, “but I told him the Astros would rather face an All-Star than you.” Torre presented Lindsey the line-up card for the game which he had autographed, along with Ethier and hitting coach Don Mattingly.

On Thursday, in front of several family members, including his now three year old son, Lindsey got his first major league at bat, pinchhitting for Dodgers starter Ted Lilly in the seventh inning of the Dodger’s 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100909&content_id=14486790&notebook_id=14495728&vkey=notebook_la&fext=.jsp&c_id=la

Lindsey is expected to receive his first major league start on Saturday, as the Astros starting pitcher is scheduled to be lefty Wandy Rodriguez.

The journey has ended for John Lindsey.

For the rest of his life, he will be forever associated with three words that can never be taken away, three words that have the same meaning and respect no matter how many games you played, how many homers you hit, or how many years it took you to get there.

“Former Major Leaguer”

Congratulations, John.

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12 Responses to “Journey to the Top Finally Ends for Dodgers’ John Lindsey”

  1. Hartvig Says:

    Great story. It’s stuff like this I love most about baseball.

  2. Raul Says:

    A terrific story.

    Thanks for sharing, Chuck.
    Best of luck to John Lindsey. I’ll try to catch some of that game this weekend.

  3. Chuck Says:

    The circumstance of Lindsey’s first ML game actually happened to Astros pitcher Larry Yount in 1971.

    He was called in from the bullpen to pitch and blew out his back warming up, but because he was announced, he is credited with a game played.

    Unfortunately for him, he never got a second chance, but, is officially a “former major leaguer.”

    Larry Yount is also the older brother of Robin.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?n1=yountla01&t=b&year=1971

  4. Raul Says:

    Wow @ that Larry Yount story.

    That’s like…isn’t that the story of the doctor in Field of Dreams?

  5. Jim Says:

    Nice and good luck to him and a wish for his first hit.

  6. Raul Says:

    I’m not sure where to post this, but there’s a pretty good, albeit very sad story about Eric Show (the pitcher who gave up Pete Rose’s record-breaking hit) on espn.com.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/otl/news/story?id=5543839

  7. Hossrex Says:

    In a game that didn’t fucking matter, in a situation that didn’t fucking matter… I can’t believe Joe Torre used a 33 year old person on the verge of his first MLB at-bat as a tool to get a favorable match-up for the real pinch hitter he wanted to use.

    It’s just a dick move.

  8. Mike Felber Says:

    Very nice story Chuck. And this was the right place to post the Snow story Raul-both player protaganists good men, only one was beset by demons via fate/luck of the draw.

  9. Shawn Says:

    I totally agree Hossrex. Houston and LA are both out, does it really matter? Why not give the guy a chance? The Dodgers were losing 4-0 in the 8th, runner on first and second and 1 out. What did Andre Ethier do after Lindsey is pulled? He grounds into a double play.

  10. Hartvig Says:

    According to Baseball Tonight, Lindsey got his first hit today.

  11. John Says:

    What was the catch?

    Like, it looked like he was pretty much raking AAA…

  12. Brad Says:

    Hossrex & Shawn, I also agree. Don’t get me started on Torre.

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