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TIM BURT, OCVARSITY.COM
Mark Trumbo of the Angels takes questions during Wednesday's dinner.

Trumbo part of special night for Ryan Lemmon Foundation

OCVARSITY.COM

Angels infielder Mark Trumbo says some of his best baseball memories were playing for his high school team at Villa Park High.

Trumbo and others in the baseball community want to make sure those opportunities continue for future generations.

"The CIF championship at Angel Stadium when I was a sophomore in high school (stands out) and the guys I got to cherish the memories with are still some of my best friends to this day," Trumbo said.

Trumbo and Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes were honored Wednesday at the inaugural Ryan Lemmon Foundation Evening of Baseball Dreams and Stories at the Strawberry Farms Golf Course in Irvine.

The two Major Leaguers received the foundation's Dream Award. Hughes, the former Foothill standout, was not able to attend because of another commitment, according to Foothill's former baseball coach Vince Brown.

"This is very cool for me," Trumbo said of the award. "I wish Phil was here to share this moment with me because we spent quite a bit of time together."

The dinner was part of the Ryan Lemmon Foundation's drive to help out struggling baseball programs around the county.

About 200 guests paid $225 a ticket to listen to Trumbo and Shawn Green, a former Tustin star and 14-year Major League player, tell baseball stories.

Former Angels Bobby Grich and Doug DeCinces were also on hand. Sportscasters Ed Arnold and Bill Cunerty were the masters of ceremonies.

The foundation is named in honor of Ryan Lemmon, a 1993 graduate of Woodbridge who was an all-CIF baseball player. Lemmon, who was attending Pepperdine University, died in a car accident in 1994.

The Foundation holds an annual Ryan Lemmon Showcase in which seniors from the Century, South Coast, Sea View, Empire, Sunset, Trinity, Freeway and Pacific Coast leagues participate and scholarships are handed out. Wednesday's dinner was another attempt to raise funds for the county programs.

Organizers indicated about $45,000 was raised from the event.

"The money raised will go into our high school program to help fund their lower level teams," said Dick Owens of the foundation. "It will also go in the form of scholarship money to the seniors at our Showcase in June."

The high school coaches who attended the event, including Beckman baseball coach Kevin Lavalle, seemed appreciative of the efforts of the foundation, led by Guy Lemmon, Ryan's father, along with foundation members Larry Michaels and Owens.

"What a gift he (Lemmon) is to everyone in the Irvine area and Orange County," Lavalle said. "It's such a tribute to his son and the love he has for his son. The high school community is such a close-knit group, especially in baseball.

"Nobody is doing more to help kids in Orange County than Guy Lemmon and the Ryan Lemmon Foundation."

In these tough economic times, Lavalle said athletic programs are in need of financial donations.

"I think it's hit some programs harder than others, but it's hit everyone," Lavalle said. "It's a nation-wide thing and sports are such a big part of kids' lives and all of our lives."

Green, who played for Toronto, the Dodgers, Arizona and the New York Mets was the keynote speaker and talked about how to handle adversity.

"I look at the Lemmons and they obviously had the greatest tragedy that they could have and for them to take that and take that into a vehicle to help kids fulfill the dreams that their son had is amazing," he said.

In baseball, adversity comes when players are struggling at the plate, Green said.

"You really get to know how players are when they're struggling and that's when you see their true colors," Green said. "When you're going good, life is easy. I think it's kind of a lesson to all of us. Every day there are little things that happen. In baseball, the best players are getting out seven of 10 times."

He said his experiences playing for Brown, who was the coach at Tustin at the time, were beneficial.

"I look back at high school as kind of a building time for me as player," Green said. "It's a shame what's going on in the schools with baseball and the other sports. For me, I turned into a baseball player, but the vast majority never gets to go on to that level. The things you learn there help you overcome those adversities."

The players also took part in a question and answer session from those in attendance.

Trumbo, who was the runner-up in the rookie of the year balloting last season after batting .254 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs, was asked about the affect the addition of super star slugger Albert Pujols, a first baseman will have on the team.

"I guess it's a double edge sword for me, because I grew up an Angel fan and knowing what a tremendous addition this is to the team is awesome," he said. "I've never seen a buzz like this around town and the anticipation going into the next year is incredible and it's great.

"But it does directly affect me because I played first base last year and I'm going to have to make some adjustments because obviously Albert will be the first baseman. But I'm looking forward to the challenge. I need to be versatile, I've played some outfield and I've played some third base. We're happy to have him."

The silent auction included Angel tickets and autographed bats, but the highest bid item was $7,000 for a seven-day vacation to Hawaii.

Green, the first round pick of the Blue Jays in 1991, also talked about his book, "The Way of Baseball," which was available for $20. Green stayed around to autograph the book as well.


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