Remembering Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Victor Sanchez

From 2013. (Courtesy Lynn Cripps)
From 2013. (Courtesy Lynn Cripps)

The Seattle Mariners lost a pitching prospect in 20-year-old Victor Sanchez. Autograph collectors lost the opportunity to get one of tomorrow’s major leaguers to sign today.

Meanwhile, my friend lost a friend.

Lynn “Chipper” Cripps, clubhouse manager of the class A Clinton Lumber Kings in 2013, had this memory on his Facebook page.

“It is with great sadness and a very heavy heart that l have learned that my friend and former Mariner player Victor David Sanchez Rodriguez has passed away due to his injuries he suffered in the boating accident. He was a Godly young man who treated everyone with respect and kindness. I will miss him very much as he was one of my boys.. RIP Big Vic.”

Lynn saw the heart of a competitor in 2013, noting that he was a witness to the hurler’s no-hitter.

As you look at the signatures of baseball’s bygone names, remember you have more than a rare signature. You have the chance to remember how someone lived, not how they died.

 

Mind-Melding With Future Seattle Mariners: Insights From An Appalachian League Clubhouse Manager

This is a baseball first for me.

My friend. On his own baseball card!

Lynn “Chipper” Cripps is the real thing. He deserves a real card.

The clubhouse manager told his Facebook universe about his Pulaski M’s, Seattle’s Rookie League affiliate. On Tuesday, he shared news that the Choice minor league team set had arrived.

Plus, he noted that he started getting autograph requests himself. “Gotta laugh,” he added.

I asked what he saw from the young players surrounding him. His response:

“The guys were super excited as l was to receive our first batch of ball cards. There were card collectors and autograph seekers at our stadium the first day the Appalachian League cards came out. It’s a blessing to to have a picture of yourself on a ball card, kind of an awestruck type moment. Most of the guys are first-year players, so they were super pumped. I have probably signed about a dozen ball cards so far for people who have came to our home games. Since the cards just came out the other day, lm sure the actual fan mail card/autograph hounds will be sending them via mail shortly. Yes plenty of Sharpie pens around here, pal. The biggest thing for fans to remember is be patient and respectful when seeking an autographed card from a player or staff member.”

Lynn reminds every one of his friends with mere-mortal occupations that he loves his job. However, he’s mentioned that his life as a “clubbie” can feature 17-hour days. That’s right. He’s logged hours of 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. during homestands. Therefore, getting fan mail to players might be just one umpteen daily duties he tackles.

Therefore, especially when writing to youngsters in the low minors, realize that teams will do the best they can getting letters to players. That’s the patience he hints at. And, when you’re deciding if you just want player autographs, realize that the clubhouse manager loves baseball just as much as anyone in that starting lineup. Unsung heroes are worth collecting, too.

Thank you, Chipper!


My Favorite Mariners Minor Leaguer

Spring training is here!

Everyone loves looking at prospects. Get their autograph now, before the world finds out.
The Pulaski Mariners (rookie affiliate, Appalachian League) has a star who isn’t in uniform.
I knew Lynn “Chipper” Cripps first as a gung-ho, always-smiling catcher for my Marshalltown, Iowa high school team. Later, he served with honor as a local police department sergeant, only to face early retirement from being injured in the line of duty.
Lynn never forgot baseball, and baseball never forgot him. After working as clubhouse manager for the Clinton Lumber Kings, he’s signed on for the same role in Pulaski to be near relatives.
Gearing up for a new season at a new address, Lynn still found time to answer some questions. Knowing that he may be the one who gets fan mail to everyone on the roster, I wanted to ask him what he’s seen.
Q: How were your Midwest Leaguers in signing autographs?
A: These young Minor League players that I had the honor to be around were fantastic about signing autographs in person and through the mail. The only difference is when they had time to sit down to do it some would do them right away while others would wait until they received more quantity and then do them.


Q: Do you know if they get any coaching regarding autographs?


A: The only guidance I say they would get from management would be to try and be as professional as you can be all the time.

Q: Does anyone teach the abbreviated, short-hand autograph?

A: Some are really neat about it and some are not what I have noticed as they move up the ladder is that YES the autograph gets condensed.

Lynn’s story is important for another reason. Those behind-the-scenes heroes who keep the farm teams thriving, who help today’s minor leaguers become tomorrow’s stars, are often as devoted to the sport as we are. They have pasts as inspiring as any player. A tip of the M’s cap to you, Chipper!
Coming Thursday: Talking autographs with fabled pitcher Ned Garver


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