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

Posted: July 27, 2009 9:50 p.m.
Updated: July 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Andrew Lorraine sits at Bud Murray Field. The wall behind Lorraine displays Hart High graduates who have made it to the Major Leagues. Andrew Lorraine sits at Bud Murray Field. The wall behind Lorraine displays Hart High graduates who have made it to the Major Leagues.
Andrew Lorraine sits at Bud Murray Field. The wall behind Lorraine displays Hart High graduates who have made it to the Major Leagues.
Randy Wicks, former award-winning cartoonist for The Signal newspaper, drew this picture of Andrew Lorraine while the pitcher was attending Hart High School. Randy Wicks, former award-winning cartoonist for The Signal newspaper, drew this picture of Andrew Lorraine while the pitcher was attending Hart High School.
Randy Wicks, former award-winning cartoonist for The Signal newspaper, drew this picture of Andrew Lorraine while the pitcher was attending Hart High School.
Andrew Lorraine poses for a picture as a junior pitcher at Hart High School. Andrew Lorraine poses for a picture as a junior pitcher at Hart High School.
Andrew Lorraine poses for a picture as a junior pitcher at Hart High School.
All Andrew Lorraine knows is baseball.

He dreamed about wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform when he was a kid.

He was almost in Dodger blue, having pitched for the Los Angeles team’s Minor League affiliate in Las Vegas in 2003.

Instead, Andrew Lorraine has worn the baseball uniform of Hart High School, Stanford (University), the California Angels, Milwaukee Brewers and La New Bears, to name a few teams.

He’s worn the uniform of close to 40 teams in a professional baseball career that began in 1993.

Along the way, Lorraine has had a strong support system.

His wife, Missie, and parents, Mike and Marlene, have encouraged him to continue his baseball career, despite what others might think.

But Lorraine has grown to realize over the months of 2009 that his baseball future might no longer be on the mound.

It might be in the front office or in the dugout.

He has reached out to many of the contacts he has made over a long career.

In June, a contact set him up with a job as manager of the Southampton Breakers of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball league, a wood-bat summer league.

But when the league concludes in August, he is likely to get right back on the mound.

Lorraine hopes that his performance and perseverance will catch someone’s eye.

He was 6-11 with a 6.53 ERA in seven Major League seasons.

He was 106-81 with a 4.18 ERA in 14 Minor League seasons.

One thing is certain in his mind — he can still get batters out.

All he wants is a chance.

July 9

Marlene says excitedly of the Breakers: “They’re a half-game out of first!”

At this point the team is 12-8.

July 14

Bud Murray, now 73 years old and 10 years retired from coaching baseball at Hart High, says he hasn’t spoken to Lorraine in years.

But he follows him from afar.

Murray has a lasting reputation for being one of the Santa Clarita Valley’s greatest coaches ever.

He was a stern coach whose disciplinarian and respect-for-the-game approach produced success year in and year out.

Hart baseball was a collegiate and professional baseball factory under Murray.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, two names stuck out — longtime Major Leaguer Todd Zeile and Lorraine.

Two Hart grads who made it.

Lorraine fits in another category of two for Murray as well — the two guys who loved baseball the most.

“Anyone who’s willing to ride those damn buses (as much as he did) in the minor leagues has a love for the game,” Murray says. “(Lorraine) has a lot of pride in what he does. He never wanted to walk away from the game because he wanted to show people he belonged in it.”

Murray recalls Lorraine’s final game for Hart High on May 22, 1990.

It was the second round of the CIF playoffs, and Murray walked out to the mound in the sixth inning.

Hart was up 3-2 and Lorraine managed to get the first out of the inning, but Murray came out to pull him.

“I still remember the look on his face. He wanted to win that game so bad,” Murray says. “It wasn’t that don’t-take-me-out look. I think he was feeling bad that he wasn’t able to finish what he was trying to do out there.”

To this day, Lorraine is still not ready to be pulled from the game.

July 17 (afternoon)

There is harsh reality in the friendly voice of Ken Forsch.

For 16 Major League seasons, Forsch was a big-league pitcher.

He is currently the assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

But in 1994 he was the Angels’ Director of Player Development.

He remembers Lorraine and how in 1994 the Angels were hurting for pitching.

They promoted Lorraine to the big club after he spent only a year in the Minor Leagues, though he was tearing up Triple-A at the time. He was 12-4 and was a member of the Pacific League’s Triple-A All-Star Team.

At the age of 21, he made his Major League debut on July 17, 1994, coming into the game in relief.

He went three innings, allowing nine hits and four earned runs.

“He had the potential,” Forsch says. “He threw pretty hard, not sure if the ball moved as much as you would have liked it.”

On July 22, five days after his debut, Lorraine made his first big-league start.

In front of 34,750 fans at Anaheim Stadium, Lorraine struggled through 4 2/3 innings against the New York Yankees.

He allowed eight hits, seven earned runs, walked four and struck out four in a 12-3 loss.

Forsch recalls how Lorraine struggled with his command, but said he was a special person.

He was the Angels’ top prospect coming into the 1995 season, according to Baseball America.

The Chicago White Sox felt he was special, too. So they wanted him and got him in the trade that sent the well-liked Jim Abbott back to the Angels on July 27, 1995.

Forsch says he knew that Lorraine recently has been toiling around professional baseball.

But it seems that a big-league opportunity is not in Lorraine’s future.

“Unless a club is in dire straits and they can’t find help anywhere else,” was Forsch’s answer to whether Major League teams would give a guy like Lorraine, 36 and long on experience but short on time, a chance. “You’re always moving on, bringing new guys into an organization. Even to sign a guy like Andrew right now, it would tie up a spot for a guy in Triple-A. It’s really difficult to try and rejuvenate a career along those lines. It’s a tough road for him to make it back at this point.”

July 17 (evening)

A little boy, 6 years old, answers the door.

He is wearing a gray T-shirt with a glove and baseball on it.

He is the spitting image of Andrew Lorraine.

His name is Mason Lorraine.

His mother, Missie, approaches.

She hands over a piece of paper with writing on both sides.

Years are underlined and dashes follow them.

Each year shows an account of where Lorraine has been in his career:

1994 — first trip was to Salt Lake City

1995 — Arizona Fall League, spring training with the Angels, AAA Vancouver, traded to the Chicago White Sox, AAA Nashville, Chicago White Sox

1996 — Spring training with Oakland A’s (in Arizona), AAA Edmonton

1997 — Spring training with Oakland, AAA Edmonton, Oakland

1998 — Spring training with Seattle Mariners, AAA Tacoma, Seattle

1999 — Spring training with Chicago Cubs, AAA Iowa, Chicago Cubs

2000 — Spring training with Chicago Cubs, Chicago Cubs, AAA Buffalo, Cleveland Indians, Buffalo

2001 — Spring training with Florida Marlins, AAA Calgary, AAA Scranton

2002 — Spring training with Milwaukee Brewers, AAA Indianapolis, Milwaukee

2003 — Spring training with Los Angeles Dodgers, AAA Las Vegas

2004 — Spring training with Minnesota Twins, AAA Ottawa

2005 — Spring training with Seattle, AAA Tacoma

2006 — Long Island Ducks (independent league), AAA Charlotte

2007 — Italy, Taiwan

2008 — Taiwan

2009 — Caribbean World Series

Yet there were omissions.

Lorraine’s career started in 1993 when he was drafted by the California Angels, then was sent to their A-Ball team in Boise, Idaho.

He began 1994 in AAA Vancouver, then was called up by the Angels. In 2004, he played six games for the Altoona Curve – a Minor League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Missie wrote extras on the back side of the paper.

* Winterball

— Three seasons in Puerto Rico

— Four or five playoff series in the Dominican Republic

— 10 or 11 seasons in Venezuela

— One season in Mexico

Missie and Mason haven’t seen Lorraine since early June.

“We miss him, but I’m really used to it,” Missie says.

Missie says she used to hang out with friends — minus Lorraine, who was away playing baseball — at a restaurant/bar called Caffe Portobello in Scottsdale, Ariz.

One day, she came in with her husband.

Someone said to her, “We thought you just wore a wedding ring so no one would hit on you.”

“She has never complained,” says Marlene of Missie.

With Mason on summer vacation, Missie has been spending time in Southern California.

On this night, she is staying with Marlene and Mike.

Marlene and Mike Lorraine have been married 43 years.

They have two children, Andrew and his older sister by two years, Karen.

Mike is originally from Blackpool, England.

Marlene is from New Jersey.

Both relocated to Southern California in the early 1960s.

When they were dating, Mike used to pick up Marlene from her home in Baldwin Hills.

Legendary Dodgers manager Walter Alston lived in the same building. He was even invited to Marlene and Mike’s wedding.

“We weren’t big sports people,” Mike says.

They both knew little of baseball and learned the game with their son.

He used to practice his pitching by hurling a tennis ball from their front yard to a wall across the street with a strike zone drawn in chalk.

Mike later measured the distance from the spot Andrew pitched to the wall — 60 feet, 6 inches, the exact distance between a high school, college or professional pitching rubber and home plate.

Marlene says she knew things weren’t normal when her son was a junior in high school.

Baseball scouts crowded around a backstop to watch him pitch.

“I had a funny feeling ... maybe something really good is going to happen,” Marlene says. “Maybe he’d get a scholarship. We didn’t think past that.”

As parents, Marlene and Mike say they think about their son’s future.

Missie doesn’t.

“Honestly, what is the future?” she asks.

She says the thought of waking up at 7 a.m., going to work, taking the kids to dance class, going to bed at 10 p.m. and taking a week vacation every year is not a life she wants.

But the one part of the future she does think of is Mason.

At just 6 years old, Mason already knows what he wants to be when he grows up.

“A baseball player,” he says.

Mason keeps his own baseball journal.

He organizes games with other kids.

And he dreams about the game.

He dreamt the night before about his dad returning home from his current baseball job.

July 21

Andrew Lorraine is driving in Groton, Conn.

He almost played in the state in 2004.

Lorraine was a member of the Altoona Curve.

The team was in Norwich, Conn., to play the Navigators, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.

The first day it rained.

The next day Lorraine was traded to the Baltimore Orioles organization for future considerations.

Groton is less than 20 miles away from Norwich.

Lorraine is enjoying a day off before heading back on a ferry to the Hamptons to coach the Breakers.

He just left the post office, where he sent his paycheck to his family.

He says he is enjoying the coaching experience and is making connections.

The Breakers are 17-12, and he says the players seem to like him.

The Major Leagues are distant.

“I know it’s a long shot,” he says. “(But) it’s fun to come out here with these kids who ask, ‘What was it like being in the big leagues? Can you still pitch?’”

Lorraine says he would likely pitch for the Orange County Flyers when the Hamptons league comes to an end in early August.

After that, who knows?

Whatever that future is, it’s bound to include baseball.

“When it’s all said and done, it’s my life and it keeps on going,” Lorraine says.

If baseball is a metaphor, Lorraine is in the final innings of his career.

He is reluctant to leave the mound — just like a starting pitcher who wants to finish the game he started.

There are those who have come to the mound and asked him for the ball — like the 30 Major League Baseball teams that haven’t solicited his services in years.

But the devoted baseball player is still trying to convince people — he still has something left.


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