It was his first day with the Salt Lake Bees, and relief pitcher Brandon Lyon skipped up the steps of the home dugout down the first-base line. The memories began to flow, fresh and thick, as he took a look around.
A 12-year major league veteran, Lyon has traversed the country, and he has stood in the center of diamonds housed by cathedrals, in the footsteps of all-time greats.
But there was a time before that, before the money and the big-league glitz and glamour, when Lyon was just a teenage kid dreaming of nothing more than playing at the end of the season on the field on which he was now walking.
Back then, Lyon was a star pitcher for Taylorsville High, and along with teammate John Buck, who also is a major league veteran, led the Warriors to the 1996 Class 5A state championship — played at what is now Smith’s Ballpark.
“I’ve seen this field before,” said Lyon, who pitched a perfect seventh in the Bees’ 5-4 win over the Fresno Grizzlies Monday. “To be out here again, it brings back a lot of memories.”
Though playing with the Bees, whose game Monday did not end before The Tribune’s deadline, is a far cry from the majors, Lyon is pleased to have the opportunity to play in his hometown, something few ballplayers get to do when they leave their amateur careers behind. He is looking forward to playing in front of familiar faces and catching up with old friends in the time he’s here.
“I never really imagined where I’d be in my career at this point,” said Lyon, who played collegiately at Dixie State and still resides in St. George in the offseason. “But to be here, in this city, and to be able to play in front of some people I know, it’s great.”
As much as Lyon is savoring playing in his hometown, he believes he has more still to offer a major league team. And with any luck, he’ll once again leave Salt Lake for another chance at bigger and better things.
“I feel like every day I can get better,” Lyon said. “The situation is the situation, but I’ve still got a lot in me.”
Storylines Bees 5, Grizzlies 4
R Right-handed pitcher Brandon Lyon, who helped Taylorsville High win the 1996 Class 5A championship, piches a perfect seventh inning in the Bees’ win.• A 12-year veteran of the major leagues, Lyon pitched for the New York Mets last season, going 2-2 with a 4.98 ERA.