Lamphere left his mark on CMU baseball program

Local residents may know Larry Lamphere as the current Brandon High School Athletic Director.
However, the Central Michigan University baseball archives show he was an integral part of the Chippewas? diamond history. Lamphere, who played at CMU from 1985-88, was fortunate enough to be a part of four straight Mid-American Conference championship teams. The last of those four, in 1988, was the Chippewas? fifth straight overall.
In addition, he is among the record-holders in several different categories for the CMU baseball program, both for a season and for a career. He is the Chippewas? all-time career leader in runs scored (188) and stolen bases (143).
After his CMU career was finished, Lamphere was drafted in the 14th round by the Houston Astros in 1988, and spent three years in their minor league system. Along the way, he played with current major league baseball players Luis Gonzalez (Lamphere’s roommate his first year), Todd Jones and Kenny Lofton.
Lamphere, 37, said he first got a taste of the game when he was six years old. Growing up, he followed several notable Tigers players of the 1970’s and 80’s, including Ron LeFlore, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and Aurelio Rodriguez.
‘I wasn’t old enough to play on a team, but my older brother, Dean, was on the Montgomery Pharmacy team in Durand, so I was allowed to practice,? he said.
The following year, Lamphere was able to participate in league action. He spent five years playing for the Western Auto team in Durand, then played on all-star travel teams from age 12-15. When he turned 16, he played for two teams, one in the City of Flint Super ‘C? League and the other in the Connie Mack League.
Lamphere, who played outfielder and catcher during that time, also played on the Centill and Grossi team, which he said was the premier team in the City of Flint.
All told, he played three years of varsity baseball in Durand, and was an all-state outfielder his junior year and an all-state catcher his senior year.
From that point, he signed a scholarship to play college baseball at CMU, where he played under longtime coach Dean Kreiner. In addition to their MAC championships, the Chippewas earned four straight National Collegiate Athletic Association regional berths.
In 1987, Lamphere was selected to represent his country in the Pan-American Games in Indianapolis. As a member of Team USA, he trained in Millington, TN and traveled throughout the country to play in exhibition games. Team USA, which included future major leaguers Tino Martinez and Frank Thomas, took the silver medal that year.
‘Playing for your country is pretty special,? Lamphere said.
On his travels that year, one experience stood out vividly for Lamphere. Team USA traveled to Cuba, which they had not done since 1964, to play an exhibition game in front of an audience of 50,000, including President Fidel Castro.
According to Lamphere, former major league pitcher Jim Abbott was the pitcher that day. He said the first five batters tried bunting against Abbott, who was born with one arm, to test his ability to throw runners out. Abbott responded by retiring all five batters.
After the game, Castro came out to shake everyone’s hand. ‘That was pretty cool,? Lamphere said of the experience.
In 1988, Lamphere signed with the Houston Sports Association (the parent company for the Astros). He said Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser, the late Detroit Tigers pitcher, signed him for the Astros? organization. That year, he played for the club’s Class A affiliate in Auburn, NY, where he roomed with Gonzalez.
The following year, he played for the Asheville (NC) Tourists, made famous in the movie Bull Durham. Lamphere stole 66 bases (52 by the All-Star break) and made the South Atlantic League All-Star team along with current major leaguers Ivan Rodriguez and Reggie Sanders.
Lamphere spent 1990 playing for the Class A Osceola Astros, where he was coached by former Cincinnati Red and Detroit Tiger Jack Billingham. He was released by the parent club in spring training the following year.
He still keeps tabs on the major leagues, and one player in particular he enjoys watching is Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees? All-Star shortstop.
‘I think he has a lot of the qualities of what baseball is and was,? Lamphere said of Jeter. ‘He’s playing for the same team that drafted him, and hopefully he’ll play his entire career out there.?
When summing up his baseball career, Lamphere has nothing but positive memories. ‘I’d do it again in a minute,? he said.

Comments are closed.