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Saturday, September 14, 2019

At 43, Lew Ford’s Never-Ending Career Keeps Rolling as Player-Coach

The first time Lew Ford thought his professional baseball career had reached its end came 1,911 games, 11 teams, five leagues, three countries and 18 years ago. Back then, he was a 24-year-old outfielder buried in the Minnesota Twins’ farm system, frustrated that his first taste of Double A had gone so poorly in 2001. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in math and computer science and living in Austin, Tx., he figured he could get a good-paying job with one of the local tech companies—one that would allow him to settle down and raise a family instead of playing for pennies. But before he gave up on the big leagues, he talked to his wife, Corri, about what the future might hold. They agreed that he’d give baseball one more shot.

“I knew I needed to step it up or do something else,” Ford says. “Something else” never materialized: Nearly two decades later, he remains in the game at 43 years old, cranking away as a player-coach for the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League. Far past the point when most others would have put away their bats and away from the major league spotlight, Ford continues to churn for as long as his body and mind will let him.

“As far as one more shot to make it to the major leagues, that’s not my goal or whatever at this point in life,” Ford says. “But I do enjoy coaching and I’m still able to [play], and I enjoy it, so I’m just doing what I enjoy right now.”

That Ford is still swinging a bat in organized baseball is a minor miracle, given both his age and his path to this point. A Texas native, football was his calling card until a serious arm injury his freshman year of high school pushed him to baseball. In a pattern that would play out in his professional like, Ford bounced from one college to the next, playing for Texas A&M and a junior college in Oklahoma before winding up at Dallas Baptist. Not that this transient life made him think he was anything other than MLB material. “I played with guys who were drafted, and I felt like I was on at least that level that I could do that,” he says.

From time to time, we’ve discussed what has become of older players in baseball- here’s an account of one with a continuing career.

 

QLE Posted: September 14, 2019 at 12:22 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: independent leagues, lew ford, long island ducks

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Welcome to the Pecos League

Sean Kiley wasn’t ready to hang up his glove after college, so he set out to play in the Pecos League, the lowest level of professional baseball in the United States. This is his story.

I see the email from our GM at 6:22 p.m. Welcome to Trinidad! The email mentions details about the 10,000-person Colorado town, including player discounts, which help when you only make $50 a week. This includes 10 percent off everything at her cannabis dispensary.

Welcome to the Pecos League, the lowest level of professional baseball in the U.S.

As a right-handed pitcher throwing 79 mph, I had few offers to play college baseball. I chose Oberlin College in Ohio. I started for four years, and by the end I’d gotten my fastball to top out at 91 mph. This gave me hope I could get picked up by an affiliated minor league baseball club. But the draft came and went without me, and I settled for Plan B: studying to get into law school.

A personal account of life in the independent leagues- very much worth a read in those terms.

 

QLE Posted: August 21, 2019 at 04:01 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: independent leagues, pecos league

 

 

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