Many Twins fans have fond memories of Lew Ford, the former Twins outfielder who was endearing to many for his cerebral approach to baseball -- and the fact that he was one hit away from being a .300 hitter during the team's 2004 season when it won the American League Central title.
Ford hasn't been with the Twins since 2007, and has had only a handful of major league at-bats (with Baltimore in 2012) since then.
But Ford, who turns 41 this month, is still playing. He's become a mainstay with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League (Think East Coast version of the St. Paul Saints) and his career was recently chronicled by the New York Post.
If you're young or a new fan and wondering why some Twins fans have such fond memories of Ford, read this story by Joe Christensen from a few years back, when Ford made a brief MLB comeback with the Baltimore Orioles after five years away from the majors.
Ford is a player-coach for the Ducks, but he's still an asset to the team's lineup. Usually batting third in the order, he's hitting .291 with seven home runs for the Ducks this season after hitting .305 in 2016. Baseball has been a year-round thing for Ford, who has played for assorted teams in Mexico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic in recent winters.
It was three years ago, Ford told Howie Kussoy of the New York Post, that he finally gave up hope of returning to the majors. He heard the same thing from coaches and scouts who would come to check out the Ducks: “They were pretty blunt, and said, ‘We think you can still play, but with your age and injury history, we’re not gonna take the chance.' It’s tough to hear, but I appreciated the honesty of it. That’s when I realized maybe I should think about also coaching.”
That's when he added the title of "bench coach" to his playing duties. He admitted that it's become easier to hang out with the manager and Ducks' pitching coach than with players who are coming close to half his age.
He told Kussoy: “I don’t think they even know who Johan [Santana] is. I still try to get in the clubhouse and talk to the guys and shoot the bull with them, but I don’t know, the age difference is just getting more and more. I still enjoy it, I still have fun, but every year I become more of a coach and less of a player.”
But he has value doing both. "Guys are still in awe of him, how he’s doing it," said Ducks manager Kevin Baez. "He’s still having success. Keep playing until they take the uniform off.”
Kussoy asked Ford when that could happen. Find out the answer by reading the entire story here.
Follow Ford on Twitter at @Captainlew20.
And, finally, watch this excellent catch Ford made during a recent game..