View Mobile Site
 

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

 

Complete Game: The Story of Andrew Lorraine, Part 1 of 3

Posted: July 25, 2009 7:38 p.m.
Updated: July 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Pitcher Andrew Lorraine poses for a picture as a member of the California Angels in 1994.

View More »
 
A pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs once told him he was “persistent as f---.”

But Andrew Lorraine would say he is devoted.

Despite what some may urge, his devotion won’t be compromised.

“I still feel passionate about baseball,” Lorraine says contemplatively, his forefinger resting below his lip.

Lorraine is 36 years old.

He is a father, husband and son.

The 1990 Hart High School graduate has spent nearly his entire adult life in professional baseball.

And he’s not ready or willing to give up the game.

He pitched in the Major Leagues for parts of seven seasons. He pitched in the Minor Leagues for parts of 14 seasons.  

And for the past two years, he has pitched in Italy, Mexico and far flung (in terms of pro baseball) Taiwan.

Now he’s in a sort of limbo.

Lorraine is the head coach for a summer-league baseball team in the Hamptons, N.Y.

He throws batting practice to college baseball players, knowing he should be pitching in the Major Leagues.

But his last big-league game was with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2002.

Lorraine continues to travel the road back, though, despite the odds, and despite what others may say.

He wonders whether he will be cast as a burnout, a success story or a battler.

His proud mom and dad, Marlene and Mike, take great pride in what he has accomplished.

There are pictures of their son in a pro baseball uniform all around their Newhall home – in the living room, near the kitchen, next to the bathroom.

His wife, Missie, is somewhat guarded at first when talking about her husband, then declares her affinity for the lifestyle made possible by her husband’s career.

But Lorraine is at a crossroads.

He made his Major League debut as a pitcher for the California Angels in 1994. The next year, he was ranked the Angels’ No. 1 prospect. Since then, he has bounced from Major League organization to Major League organization. He hasn’t pitched professionally in the United States since 2006.

After a solid performance in the Caribbean World Series this past winter, Lorraine thought he would have the opportunity to further resurrect his career.

He hoped the phone would ring from a Major League Baseball franchise.

In February, he hoped.

In March, he still hoped.

By early April, baseball’s Opening Day had come and gone, and the phone never rang.

In May, he found a pitching job with an independent baseball team.

In June, his career took another direction.

By July, he was still making a pitch to continue his baseball career.

This is Lorraine’s six-month journey within a life’s journey.

February

Andrew Lorraine is at home in Scottsdale, Ariz.

He says he’s not waiting next to the phone, but he’s definitely waiting for it to ring.

It has only been a couple of weeks since Lorraine returned from Mexicali, Mexico, where he pitched for the Tigres de Aragua of Venezuela in the 2009 Caribbean World Series.

The Tigres won the Caribbean Series.

Lorraine pitched in six games, allowed three hits and just one earned run for a 2.08 ERA.

Surely, he thought, that would attract some attention.

“I am pitching against elite competition every year showing I can still do it,” Lorraine says.

But as February moves toward March, the well of opportunity continues to dry up.

Most free agents have received invitations from Major League clubs to compete for a job in spring training.

Lorraine has not received one call.

What he does have, though, is hope.

What he has more of is belief.

Lorraine believes he can still get big league batters out with his herky-jerky, left-handed delivery.

In the last year, he was getting batters out in Taiwan and Latin America.

In Taiwan, he played for the La New Bears of the Chinese Professional Baseball League.

The team is run by the La New Corporation, which manufactures footwear.

Lorraine remembers wearing Adidas-brand shoes while playing for the team.

He played in Italy and Taiwan in 2007 simply because that’s where he received offers.

Crowds would range from 1,000 to 10,000 in Taiwan.

Baseball was played to the rhythm of drum-beating Taiwanese fans.

Every game was nationally televised.

Recalling his days playing outside of the United States and thinking of his future, Lorraine admits to thoughts of coaching or working in a professional baseball team’s front office.

But he repeats, almost like a mantra, that he can still play ball.

“Sure you have moments when you doubt yourself,” he says. “But every time I say, ‘I’m going to get through this.’ The last couple of years have taken an interesting turn, but I keep putting a uniform on.”

This leads him to believe that eventually he will put on a uniform for the 2009 baseball season.

February came and went.

Lorraine never received a call from a Major League team.

March

Lorraine admits, “It’s tough right now. What will have to happen to me is I’ll take a job where it’s not my first choice, or wait, or maybe it won’t be this year.”

This is anti-Andrew.

He doesn’t speak in negatives.

Though his life has traveled the road of uncertainty, there has always been an exit.

At this point, there isn’t one.

He throws almost daily near his home in Scottsdale just in case.

Lorraine is Jewish, but he’s not extremely religious.

“I don’t sit at home and pray for a job,” he says.

“I’m a little stubborn,” he adds. “I really, really believe that good things come to people who believe good things will happen for them.”

Lorraine says he almost lost belief in himself in 2006.

He was pitching for the independent Long Island Ducks, a regular landing spot for many ex-big leaguers who hope to use it as a launching pad back to the big leagues.

But it’s also been a landing spot for the infamous.

Controversial pitcher John Rocker pitched for the team briefly in 2005.

Jose Offerman attacked opposing players with a bat after getting struck by a pitch in 2007.

One of the more notable players on the current Ducks is Bill Simas.

Simas was dealt with Lorraine in 1995 by the Angels in the trade that brought beloved pitcher Jim Abbott back to Anaheim.

The Ducks have no affiliation with any Major League team, so there is no direct pipeline back to the big leagues.

A big league club would have had to purchase Lorraine’s contract, then likely assign him to one of its Major League affiliates. Then he would have to perform well to get back to the big leagues.

Lorraine says he was down on playing baseball in 2006 because after so many years affiliated with Major League teams, he was in independent ball with a longer road to get back to where he once was.

“I came out of games (when I was playing poorly) not feeling bad about it,” Lorraine says. “I played so long at such a high level, it’s almost like I didn’t want to fight anymore,” Lorraine says.

Lorraine says there was a point, though, where he decided to rededicate himself by being more positive.

His numbers improved, and the Chicago White Sox signed him later that season.

He played out the rest of the season in Triple-A Charlotte, where he was outstanding. Lorraine appeared in 17 games, threw 27 2/3 innings and compiled a 1.95 ERA.

But the Sox never called him up and his services were not retained for the following season.

April

Lorraine walks parallel to the right-field line at Bud Murray Field at Hart High in Newhall on an overcast spring day.

It was 20 years ago that Lorraine walked on this very field wearing a pinstriped uniform with the name “Hart” in script across his chest.

His face hasn’t aged much.

He still looks very much like the kid who lead the Indians to the 1989 CIF-Southern Section Division 4A championship game.

Jet black hair, slender build, no facial hair.

On this day, though, he’s wearing a navy blue jacket with “Italia” in block letters.

Lorraine played in Italy in 2007.

“I don’t want to stop playing,” he says.

Lorraine is in town visiting his parents.

Without a baseball job, he has the ability to stay with them for a couple of days in the same Newhall home where he grew up.

He says he’s not waiting by the phone.

His optimism is still there.

“It’s going to happen,” he says. “Things will work themselves out.”

Recently, Lorraine has been pitching batting practice to the kids of Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale — one of the best teams in the state.

He has even thrown to the team of his former Hart teammate Casey Burrill, who is the head coach at West Ranch High (one of Hart’s Foothill League rivals).

And just months ago he was figuring out ways to get professional baseball players out in the Caribbean World Series.

Some people have lobbied Lorraine to seek a job in coaching.

He does have connections after all his years of playing ball.

And there are other alternatives.

After his days at Hart, Lorraine pitched for Stanford University.

He has a degree in American Studies from the prestigious university.

Condoleezza Rice was one of his college professors.

“I think every pitcher not at the top of their game feels they’re at a crossroads,” Lorraine says. “But when I was 25, I thought I was at a crossroads. My agent said, ‘Try Japan.’ ... I (then) signed with the Mariners.”

After walking around the fenced field, Lorraine suggests visiting a coffee shop.

He drives down the main drag of Newhall, Lyons Avenue, searching for a coffee house that is no longer there.

He settles for Starbucks.

He takes a seat in the back.

Lorraine walks right by a man wearing a Hart High baseball cap.

The man doesn’t recognize the former Hart Indian and professional baseball player.

Lorraine started calling Newhall home when he was 5 years old.

He began playing baseball soon after his arrival in the Santa Clarita Valley, but his baseball career halted at an early age when he was hit in the face by a line drive.

While other kids his age, 7 and 8, were playing at the William S. Hart baseball complex, he was playing softball in the city’s parks and recreation league.

When he was 9 years old, Lorraine made the transition to hardball. There was little impact.

He recalls batting ninth and playing outfield.

It wasn’t until he was 13 that he started playing on a tournament team.

As a high school freshman, he was told he wouldn’t play much, so he grew his game more at William S. Hart.

As a sophomore he made the junior varsity and was pulled up to varsity just prior to the playoffs.

In his varsity debut on May 6, 1988, he struck out the side in his one inning of work against Burroughs High of Burbank.

His next game, he surrendered three runs in one inning.

That season, Hart’s ace was a kid named Jason Edwards.

Edwards was a rising star. He went 11-0 with a 1.28 ERA and was poised to make a bigger impact in 1989.

But going into the season, he hurt his shoulder.

Edwards never took the mound as a senior.

Lorraine was called in to step up.

He did.

The 6-foot-1-inch, 162-pound southpaw went 9-5, striking out 101 batters in 93 innings. His 2.18 ERA was second on the team.
Lorraine earned the starting nod for the CIF championship game at Dodger Stadium.

Six years before that, Lorraine walked onto the field at Dodger Stadium for a pregame ceremony that recognized Los Angeles-area businesses like the one his mother, Marlene, worked for. Lorraine was selected to represent her.

Walking onto the dirt at Dodger Stadium, he knelt down and swiped a handful as a souvenir.

Lorraine dreamed of being a Dodger when he was younger.

He drew pictures of himself in a Dodgers uniform, his parents say.

He told his parents he would return the dirt the next time he walked onto the field at Dodger Stadium — as a player.

That opportunity came June 3, 1989 in the CIF championship game.

He forgot to bring the dirt.

Lorraine pitched well enough to win that day, but his defense failed him in a 4-1 loss to Cerritos High.

“I really grew up,” Lorraine says of that season. “Dealing with stuff, accepting myself, recognizing I deserve to be here.”

Before his senior year, he learned how to throw a curveball, bulked up and grew in confidence.

He was 9-0 with a 0.91 ERA.

His play parlayed into a scholarship to Stanford.

“I blossomed late and escalated quickly,” Lorraine says.

In 1993, his senior season at Stanford, Lorraine led the Cardinal in wins (eight) and ERA (4.15).

That summer, Lorraine was selected in the fourth round of the 1993 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, 103rd overall.
The journey began.

Part two of “Complete game” will run in Monday’s edition of The Signal. The story concludes on Tuesday with part three.

Comments

Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

 
 

Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...