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M's draftee Lindquist moving forward with 'love of the game'
When it happened, Sam Lindquist was busy with his Stanford Cardinal baseball team, as Stanford was amidst a tight super regional matchup with Vanderbilt in the NCAA tournament. The last thing on his mind was the 2014 Major League Baseball draft.
“I had just gotten off the bus after we won with a walk-off home run in the bottom of ninth,” he recalled. “I got on bus, and all of sudden my teammates around me started yelling and cheering. My teammates knew before I did.”
Not a bad way for the Mercer Island native to find out he’d been drafted by the hometown Seattle Mariners in the 37th round of the MLB draft. A 6-6 right handed pitcher, Lindquist went 2-0 this season for Stanford, making 15 appearances out of the bullpen. He boasted a 2.81 ERA and a team-best .169 opposing batting average. The season before, Lindquist posted team highs in saves and appearances while opposing batters only managed to hit .195 against him.
Growing up on Mercer Island, Lindquist said he fell in love with baseball playing catch with his dad in his front yard, while learning the game of baseball by watching Mariners games. He was involved in youth baseball and football, eventually attending high school at Eastside Catholic to play football, citing being won over by the Crusaders’ football coach at the time.
With his team still competing in the NCAA tournament before ultimately falling in three games to Vanderbilt, Lindquist said he tried to keep his mind off of the draft. He went through the draft process last year as well, and had an opportunity to go higher in last year’s draft. But working on a double major in human biology and psychology, Lindquist wanted to come back to finish his degree, a decision he’s happy he made. Though he admitted he expected to do more on the field this year.
“I definitely had higher expectations of myself for the season this year,” he said. “Last year, I led the team in appearances and saves and opponent batting average. I had a lot of success and expected a lot more. As a whole, it didn’t pan out exactly how I wanted it to, but I believe things work out as they do. In the end, it’s what I wanted it to be, I had so much fun.”
Lindquist said one of the strengths he’s developed has been learning how to fail, saying baseball is unique in the fact that it’s a game that’s set up for failure.
“Imagine you’re a Hall of Fame hitter, batting .300. That means you’re failing seven out of ten times,” he said. “You’re going to fail, but by learning how to fail, I’ve fostered a deep love of the game, knowing it’s hard and tough and loving it anyway. Despite the ups and downs, I have a passion and love for the game. It’s nice going forward knowing that there’s nothing I’ll get tired of from the experience. I have so much to learn from game.”
Having a Mariner draftee in its household is the latest accomplishment from a family that seems to churn out athletes. While Lindquist’s parents didn’t play sports past high school, younger brother Jeff was an All-American quarterback for the Islanders and will be a junior quarterback for the Washington Huskies this upcoming season. Younger sister Sara helped lead Mercer Island volleyball to its first state title in 2013 and will play volleyball at Dartmouth this fall. “My brother Jeff and I joke that we’re lucky [Sara] is the youngest because if she was the oldest, we’d be living in her shadow,” Lindquist quipped.
“We were blessed to have parents who encouraged us to do what we love and to do it because we wanted to do it. We never felt pressure to play a sport and we didn’t feel like we were doing it for our parents. We were doing it for ourselves. I think that was key in driving us toward our success.”