Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Farewell, Leon Landry

The Dodgers traded Leon Landry yesterday. In 2010 sportswriter Pete Volk wrote this piece on Landry for us, which we're reprinting here:

DODGERS GET A NICE GUY

By Pete Volk – maryland.scout.com

In high school I decided, as many kids do who love sports but are about as athletic as a tortoise, to pursue a career in sports journalism. Luckily, a friend of a friend knew the editor of a local free monthly paper, and they were in need of a local sports guy. My first assignment was to cover the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts, a local summer baseball team that played in the Cal Ripken, Sr. Collegiate Baseball League.

The CRSCBL, besides being a mouthful, is a collegiate wood-bat summer league that has talented players from all over the country congregate in the DC area to try and prove to scouts that they are, in fact, hot shit. Past alumni include John Maine and ex-Dodger great Steve Schmoll.

One player that I got to see play three times and who was incredibly impressive was Leon Landry, of LSU, and now of the Dodgers. When you looked at Landry, and then looked at the bunch of kids from local community colleges that were playing against him (sorry, Thunderbolts), it was clear who looked like a baseball player. Landry is built similarly to Delwyn Young (anyone remember what he did to JD Closser at home plate a few years back?) and played kind of like the CRSCBL version of Matt Kemp – the kid has power, speed, smarts, and more speed.

The best example of Landry's skill came in the 2008 All-Star game in Bethesda, Md. From the Takoma Voice on July 23rd:

In the eighth inning, Leon Landry showcased his defensive mastery in center field. Braves' left fielder Joe Charron hit a line drive into the left field gap on what looked like a sure extra base hit. Landry ran a full sprint and dove the full extension of his body to his right, catching the ball in his outstretched glove to the awe and amazement of the crowd.

"I was just thinking 'Get to it'," Landry said. "You know, it was hit hard and I'm the center fielder, I've got to patrol the thing. I mean, it's the All-Star Game and I wanted to kind of spark it up a little bit, go out and make a nice diving catch."

After the game, I had a few players on my notepad to interview, Landry being one of them. As the rare reporter who was actually younger than the college kids he was interviewing, most of the players would just brush me off or give me curt answers. With the first two players I tried to talk to that day, that is exactly what happened. As I approached Landry, I was expecting a similar result, as he was socializing with other players on the All-Star teams and had already been interviewed by various media outlets. To my surprise, when I asked for a minute of his time, Landry excused himself from the fellow players, asked my name, and ended up being a really cool guy who took time to talk to me about the catch he made and his experiences both in the league and at the All-Star game. At the end of the interview, he remembered my name, and thanked me for my time.

Naturally, when I saw the Dodgers picked him in the draft, I was extremely happy, both for the team I love that picked up another great talent, and for a talented and grounded player who gets to play for the best franchise in the world.

Congrats, Leon.