Princeton's Lahey Utilizes Power, Leadership To Earn Shot at Baseball Career With Twins
By Bill Alden
Tim Lahey didn't start his Princeton University baseball career playing like someone destined to end up in professional baseball. As a freshman, the Worcester, Mass. native hit a paltry .220 with two homers. In his sophomore year, Lahey saw more action but hit only three homers.
The powerful 6'4, 235-pound catcher, however, made huge strides as a junior when he smacked 11 homers, the second-best one-season total in Princeton history, and capped his breakthrough season by making the all-regional team at the Auburn regional in the NCAA tournament.
This spring, Lahey solidified his status as one of the greatest catchers in recent Princeton history as he hit seven homers, knocked in 31 runs, and earned second-team All-Ivy recognition.
Last week, it became clear that Lahey's progress had caught the attention of the big leagues as the Minnesota Twins selected him in the 20th round as the 601st pick of the Major League Baseball draft.
For Lahey, getting that call from the Twins was a major thrill. "I was excited, as simple as that," said Lahey, who set a Princeton single-game record this spring when he exploded for three homers in a mid-April contest at Columbia.
"It's a dream come true. I had a pretty good idea that I would get a chance to extend my baseball career for a few years and that's all I want. I grew up as a Red Sox fan but now the Twins are my new favorite team."
Lahey acknowledged that he has taken a winding road to pro ball. "I'm a bit of a late bloomer, I've taken that path all the way through," said Lahey, who signed with the Twins last week and will be heading to a 10-day mini-camp in Ft. Myers, Fla. before getting farmed out in the minor leagues, most likely to Elizabethton, Tenn. of the Rookie League.
"I can't say I expected to be drafted when I came to Princeton. My goal was to develop into the best player I could. In terms of performance, I made a big jump from my sophomore year to my junior year. I felt that if I developed like I thought I could, being drafted was a possibility."
Princeton head coach Scott Bradley is certainly proud of how his star catcher has developed. "In my seven years here, we've never had someone with the leadership qualities that Tim possesses," said Bradley. "He commands respect from everyone. He has a commanding physical presence and he has a great work ethic.'
In the view of Bradley, a former major league catcher, Lahey brings more than leadership to the table as he begins his pro career.
"The scouts have said that Tim has two above average tools," explained Bradley. "He has a terrific throwing arm and big time power. You don't get drafted by just making progress, you have to stand out."
Lahey credits Bradley with playing a special role in his development. "Just being around Coach Bradley, you learn so much about the game," said Lahey.
"His perspective after being in the big leagues gives him more knowledge than a lot of other people. I used to sit near him on the bench just to listen to his comments during the game."
In Lahey's view, his total Princeton experience will be invaluable as he heads into pro ball. "When you're a Princeton athlete, there is a work ethic you are forced to have," said Lahey, a politics major who may give medical school a shot after he is finished playing baseball.
"The academic stuff is difficult. If you want to compete nationally as an athlete, you have to work so hard. We're basically in class from 10 a.m. to around 2:30 and then you have lifting, running, and practice. We have four games on most weekends. It's a grind, you learn to enjoy the good times and work through the hard times."
With his combination of character and power, Lahey figures to have plenty of good times in his pro baseball career.