lifelong pals and boyhood friends bonded

Our team was our frame of reference. Growing up in Utah, we didn’t know anybody in the big leagues, there were no (MLB) teams close by. GEORGE Back before they’d gone and done it, before boyhood friends Brandon Lyon and John Buck pulled off their version of hitting the Powerball numbers by playing more than a decade in the major leagues, including one Field of Dreams season as battery mates for the New York Mets, making $26 million in the process, each; back before all that, John Buck was sitting in a little room off to the side of the main office at Taylorsville High School and had this exchange with Joyce Jones, the guidance counselor.

Growing up in the landlocked city in the middle of the Salt Lake Valley in the ’80s and ’90s was like enrolling in a baseball academy and still getting to live at home. Taylorsville took its baseball seriously, but not too seriously. Lyon and Buck were able to play all the other sports growing up ski racing, snowboarding, skateboarding, BMX riding, hockey, football, even gymnastics (Buck credits it for improving his catching). But they also played baseball. A lot of baseball. Taylorsville was ahead of its time in organizing top level youth baseball leagues, led by Edo Rottini and others who built first class facilities, taught the kids to play the right way, and made sure they got plenty of opportunities for competition.

Lyon, nicknamed “Boo” by his friends, is 11 months older than Buck, but because their birthdays fall on either side of the July 31 cutoff, they played on the same age group teams from the time they were 8 years old through high school. Over the years the roster hardly changed, breeding a squad that won, in addition to countless state trophies, national AAU championships as 10 and 11 year olds, a trip to the Little League Western Regional final as 12 year olds, and a Babe Ruth League national championship as 13 year olds.

He won 24 games and lost three pitching for Dixie in 1999 and 2000. The cheap baseball jerseys from china
Toronto Blue Jays selected him in the 14th round of the 1999 amateur draft and signed him in 2000. He spent less than a season and a half in the minors before the Blue Jays called him up in 2001. He went 5 4 that first season to launch a 12 year MLB run that would also include stops with the Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros and New York Mets. A reliever for most of his career, he compiled a 42 47 won loss record and recorded 79 saves (ranking him 198th all time in MLB history entering the 2016 season and eighth in the Diamondbacks’ record book with 42).

Finally, in 2013, they were teammates again after the Mets acquired Buck in an offseason trade and signed Lyon as a free agent. They rented apartments within walking distance in Manhattan and appeared in numerous games together that summer at Citi Field, just like the old days at Taylorsville’s Rottini Field. The first came in the season opener in New York where Lyon came in for relief in the seventh inning and Buck was behind the plate. Lyon got a groundout to end the inning in an 11 2 Mets win that saw Buck go 2 for 4 at the plate.


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