Lance Lynn, of Brownsburg, is pitching on baseball’s biggest stage as a relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time in his career. Fox 59’s Kent Erdahl spoke to Lynn’s high school baseball coach, who said Lynn has been preparing for his biggest appearance before he began coaching him.
Pat O’Neil said he first met Lynn as an 8th-grade health teacher in Brownsburg. He said he assigned an essay where the students had to talk about where they wanted to go in their life and how they planned to get there.
At the time, Lynn had already helped lead the Brownsburg little league team on a magical run to the Little League World Series. Lynn played first base and also pitched for the team, but they lost in heartbreaking fashion in the World Series.
"All that was just great experience," said O’Neil.
Lynn used that experience to help lead Brownsburg to an impressive run of three straight appearances in the high school baseball championship game. Lynn was on the mound when the team finally won the championship in 2005. He earned the title of “Indiana's Mr. Baseball” in the process.
Despite being drafted by the Seattle Mariners out of high school, Lynn decided to go to college and pitch for Ole' Miss. He was later drafted in the first round of the amateur draft by the St. Louis Cardinals.
Earlier this season, Lynn finally received the call he waited for from his new manager, Tony La Russa.
"He was like, 'Go get em,'" said Lynn, when interviewed on the day of his major league debut. "So it was just a great feeling, and I've got to call all the family and let them all know."
Lynn also called his baseball family that day.
"He calls up and says, 'Hey coach, guess what?' I said, 'What's up Lance?' He said, 'I'm going to the show.' I said, 'What?' He said, 'I'm going to the show. I'm going to St. Louis. I'm pitching tomorrow night,'" said O’Neil. "Oh man, so I said, 'I'll be there. I'll be there. I'm proud of you.'"
O’Neil made it to that game and continues to keep up a tradition of texting or talking to Lynn after most of the games he appears in.
"He's gone about it the right way," said O'Neil. "When I see him on the mound I remember him being out here. He just wanted the ball."
On Saturday, Lynn got the ball again, and he kept it for two and one thirds innings. By the time he handed it over, he had done enough to earn a win in the biggest series of his life.
"I'm just glad that I'm able to be a part of this and be productive," said Lynn during the postgame news conference. "That's all I'm going to do from here on is try to do the best I can and, whenever I get the opportunity, just try to get outs."
Once again, the kid from Brownsburg impressed his manager.
"Man that's a big challenge because you cannot make a mistake. I mean, they kept swinging," said Tony La Russa. "It turned out great."
His old coach said Lynn will not stop there.
"He's got (a high school championship ring)," said O’Neil. "But he wants that big, diamond, World Series ring and I think they've got a chance for it."
Lynn made a brief appearance during game five on Monday night, throwing an intentional walk to the only batter he faced. He could see action again on Wednesday when the team returns to St. Louis. O'Neil said he will be there for the game.