“This game,” Lambin would say by telephone two days later, “it gets in your blood.”
Lambin, who spent the 2010 season in the Washington Nationals organization, was drafted in the 34th round by the New York Mets in 2002, and add up all the hope and dreams and more than 1,200 games, and, anyway, he’s still here.
“I’d love to be 28,” he said with a chuckle.
More than a decade ago, he figured his baseball career was finished. He had played four seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette, watching the pro draft each time he was eligible, waiting for a call that never came. Baseball is cruel to most players, dangling opportunities and memories that can never be redone. But even on his most frustrating days, Lambin’s father, Bruce, a baseball coach, told him to respect the game — and someday it’ll respect you back.
But on the draft’s second day in 2002, the selections and rounds flying by, Lambin’s patience was gone. His respect was spent. Why hadn’t baseball returned the love? To clear his mind, he ran errands, putting the draft and baseball past him.
Then his phone rang, and when he answered he heard his father’s voice.
“What’s up, Met?” Lambin recalled his dad saying.
The New York Mets had selected him with the 1,017th overall pick.
The ups and downs
Then the days started passing, the weeks turning to months and then seasons. Lambin was 24 before knew it, reaching Class AA, surprising even himself with his rapid climb. Each night was an adventure, game or not.
One night in 2004, the Class AA Binghamton (N.Y.) Mets were rained out, and group of players went to dinner. The feisty waitress’s name was Sara, and not only did she refuse to put the Mets game on television, saying this was New York Yankees country, she wouldn’t give Lambin her phone number. He found it anyway, calling and talking her into dating a baseball player, even if he was a Met.
Five years they dated, living the ups and downs of minor league baseball. In 2005, Lambin batted .309 with 24 home runs at two levels, including at Class AAA, the fringe of the majors. At the time he thought the call would come any day, but all he kept hearing was how his friends and teammates were getting a chance, and . . .