A (Chris) Lamb In A’s Clothing
Working for a professional baseball team can be a surreal experience on occasion. The life I lead as the A’s public relations director represents an entirely different world than the one I live in as a father and husband in my off hours at our home in Berkeley. One moment, I may be arranging for a FOX interview with Andrew Bailey or working with our merry band of Japanese media that chronicles Hideki Matsui’s every step, then the next minute I’m taking the BART Richmond line home that night so I can buy groceries and cook dinner for my wife and son before we tune into The Colbert Report on the Comedy Channel. It’s maybe not quite as exciting as a big league ball game, but definitely more rewarding.
Yesterday, however, my two worlds intersected in the most unlikely way. While sitting in our draft “war room” at the Coliseum, the A’s selected left-handed pitcher, Christopher Lamb of Davidson College, with their 11th round pick. My first thought was “how can this be?” And could you really blame me? To me, this wasn’t Christopher Lamb of Davidson; this was little Chris Lamb of Albany Little League and Berkeley High School! This was Chris Lamb, that skinny kid who used to hang around the local baseball fields and pitch batting practice to younger kids like my son, Luke. Talk about a local boy made good story. We’ve known the Lamb family since Chris’ father, Marvin, chairman of the psychology department at Cal State East Bay, used to coach my son in Albany Little League. I cannot think of a kid with better manners or a nicer disposition than Chris Lamb. While he was four years older than Luke, we always saw him at University Village where the Albany Little League fields are located. Sometimes Chris was just there to support his younger brother Nick, who played with my son and now is a virtuoso jazz pianist at Berkeley High. Sometimes Chris would actually umpire their games. And then, as I said, there were times when he would volunteer his talents as BP pitcher to the younger kids. He almost seemed like a big brother to everyone, not just his real bother Nick.
Beyond being a sports family, the Lambs are very education oriented (Chris’ mother is also a college professor at San Jose State and Cal). So it was no surprise that Chris not only excelled on the diamond but also in the classroom at Berkeley High. With superlative grades and test scores, he entertained thoughts of attending various Ivy League schools before accepting a baseball scholarship to Davidson, another elite academic institution. Along the way, Chris continued to grow and blossom into a legitimate prospect. As he added some MPHs to his fastball and refined his off-speed pitches, suddenly the adjective “crafty” was starting to precede his name.
While hundreds of high school and college players are drafted each year, what dawned on me yesterday is every single kid has a personal story and a community that shares in the pride their families must feel on such a special, milestone day. I had hoped to see Chris Monday night in Berkeley–his younger brother Nick was performing at the famed Berkeley music venue Freight & Salvage–and wish him well the night before his big day. We opted for a late dinner at home instead. When Eric Kubota and our baseball folks chose his name on the 11th round, I knew I had to call Chris to congratulate him. “So, Chris, do you have any white cleats lying around?” I asked. He laughed and said he and the family were very excited to be picked by a hometown team. He didn’t have to say it. The emotion in his voice told me all I needed to know.