Baseball takes Lynn Cripps to Virginia

Sunday’s Super Bowl will officially close the National Football League’s season, but it will begin another chapter in Lynn Cripps’ life.

Because once the game is over, Cripps’ thoughts will turn to baseball, and a March move to Pulaski, Va.

The retired Marshalltown Police Department sergeant said the move east is driven by a desire to savor two passions – family and baseball.

Cripps, a Philadelphia native, will be much closer to a new grandson.

Cripps’ son, Nicholas, and daughter, Christina, live In Roanoke, Va., approximately 45 minutes from Pulasaki.

Cripps is counting down the days until he walks into Calfee Park in Pulaski, the stadium where the Pulaski Mariners play their home games.

He will start work in March, in preparation of the season which begins in late May.

The Pulaski Mariners are in the Advanced Rookie League team in the Appalachian League, and a farm team of the Seattle Mariners.

Cripps was hired as clubhouse manager last year, after a successful stint in a similar position with the Clinton (Iowa) Lumber Kings of the Midwest League.

The Lumber Kings are also a Seattle Mariners farm club.

“Clinton is a great town,” Cripps said. “I enjoyed living and working there. I was sad knowing I wouldn’t be going back, but I’m excited about the new opportunity in Pulaski, simply a job I could not pass up.”

He boiled down the job succinctly to two tasks: an equipment manager and personal assistant to approximately 30 minor league baseball players and managers.

“You do everything from laundry, to feeding them, taking care of personal needs, running errands, making phone calls and other jobs,” he said. “It is a lot of work and time consuming. My day started at 9 a.m. and ended at 2 a.m. The clubhouse is the players’ and coaches’ home away from home for about six months, so you want them to be as comfortable as possible.”

Cripps quickly said the hard work is greatly offset by the rewards, which is meeting baseball people.

In Clinton, they ranged from Seattle Mariners staff to past and current baseball players.

He has met and worked with former major league players Alvin Davis (“Mr. Mariner”), John Stearns, Pete Vukovich, Rick Waits and Chris Woodward.

Davis and Vukovich are roving instructors, who travel to the Mariners’ minor league affiliates and tutor the rookies on the game’s finer points.

Stearns, Waits and Woodward will be coaches for the Seattle Mariners this season.

Cripps likes working for the parent club.

“They have treated me well,” he said. “And I have a good rapport with them.”

He has become familiar with the Pulaski players, and believes several have an excellent opportunity to advance to the major leagues.

Baseball has been a major part of Cripps’ life for more than 40 years.

He played the sport at Marshalltown High School and junior college. While in high school, he earned numerous honors, including selection to the All-State Honor Roll. He worked as a volunteer assistant baseball coach at Marshalltown Community College for a number of seasons.

He recruited players for MCC, which allowed him to meet scouts affiliated with other major league baseball teams.

His friendship with Walt Sharp, a scout with the New York Mets, turned into a three year job with that club as a scout covering Iowa and Nebraska.

The affable Cripps is well known in Marshalltown.

Todd Thimesch, owner of the Sports Page in Marshalltown knows Cripps well.

He recalled Cripps’ solid MHS career, and later, hired Cripps to manage his Game 7 baseball/softball training complex.

“Lynn managed the facility and assisted customers,” Thimesch said. “He was able to pass on his knowledge of baseball to those who were looking to improve. Lynn is passionate about the game and customers trusted him and had confidence in his skills I know he will do well in his new job. He will be missed in Marshalltown.”

Others recall Cripps from his days with the MPD.

He was equally passionate about law enforcement, but he suffered a career-ending injury after an assailant’s attack.

Doctors told him further injury could result in a severe, permanent disability, so he decided to retire.

However, Cripps said that decision gave him more time to devote to baseball.

And he credits wife Anni for her patience and support in his new, full time career.

“She has been extremely supportive to me over the years,” he said. “I owe a lot, a lot of my success to her.”