By Tom Boggess
Jeff Lahti, a professional baseball pitcher
who pitched on the biggest stage, the
World Series, has brought his knowledge
and his abilities to the CCC Cougars. He
was the ace in the bull pen with an amazing
1.84 ERA pitching for the St. Louis
Cardinals in 1985. An ace is the best you
have on your roster.
The Clackamas Print: Where are you
Jeff Lahti: I was born in Oregon City in
October, 1958. My dad worked for a logging
company and he worked in Hood
River, so when I was three, I think we
moved there. I was raised there and went
back after baseball.
TCP: Where did your baseball career
JL: Mine started at Hood River Valley
High School, and I graduated from there
in 1975. I was actually drafted right out
of high school by the Cincinnati Reds,
and I told them if they bought me a car I
would sign. So then I went on to Treasure
Valley Community College in Ontario,
Oregon, for two years. My last college year
I pitched for Portland State University and
that was the end of college ball.
TCP: How did you move on to the professional
JL: In 1978 I was drafted in the fifth round
by the Cincinnati Reds ball club. I played
five years with them; some of it was in
the minor leagues, then I got the call.
That’s where I met my mentor Johnny
Bench. I went to four big league camps
with Cincinnati in 1979-82.
TCP: What happened when you were
done pitching with Cincinnati?
JL: I was traded to the Cardinals organization
at the end of spring training on
April 26, 1982, and on April 27, 1982, I
made my pitching debut for the St. Louis
Cardinals. The Cardinals won the World
Series that year against the Milwaukee
Brewers. I pitched in two of the games.
In 1985, I pitched in four of those games
against Kansas City Royals.
TCP: Tell me please what is it like for
you and how did you feel being called
out of the bull pen to save a game in a
JL: First off, it is a great honor to be given
the ball in a World Series game. I took it
on as my responsibility to do my job, and
I really didn’t want to get booed out of the
stadium. It’s really nerve racking and my
knees were shaking, but I was working
hard on every pitch.
TCP: If you could go back to that World
Series game in 1985 No. 5, could you
have done anything different?
JL: I could watched the films a little better
and I might not have given up those
two runs, and I could have been Whitey
Herzog’s choice and then in the whole
blown call situation in games 6 wouldn’t
have happen. I was a fielder and I would
have been there sooner.
TCP: When you played, did you have
any sort of nickname or not?
JL: They used to call me the Jam Man
because whenever Whitey was in a Jam
they called for the Jam Man. I had the
most saves that year with 19.
TCP: What happened to you after your
rotator cuff injury caused you to quit
the game you loved?
JL: I went back home to Hood River where
I raised a family and owned a big farm and
I grew apples and pears for 30 years. I have
sold half of it now, but still growing fruit.
TCP: How did you come to be the pitching
coach for the CCC Cougars?
JL: Last year I got teamed up with CCC
baseball coach Jim Hoppel in a golf tournament
and we joined forces to turn this
program into a winner and to get back to
NWAC and contend. It’s been a tough
season so far this year but Jim and I are
excited to be coaching this team. We are
only going to get better and by using our
scouting and recruiting, we hope to get
some good young players in the future
for our team.