By Peter Lamb (other contributors listed below).
Remembering Johnny Lamb, #22 (01/2019)
Long time pitcher and original team member of the current incarnation of the Connaught Meralomas passed away on December 21, 2018. He was 73 year old.
John Douglas Lamb, born January 4, 1945, died December 21, 2018.
John son of deceased parents Jack and Louise Lamb, older loving brother of Judy and Peter Lamb died peacefully at St. Josephs Hospice on the UBC campus in Vancouver, BC. He had been moved from his apartment in the Vancouver district of Kitsilano where he had lived for the past 37 years to the hospice about 2 weeks prior to his passing.
John did not want any public announcements or fuss after he was gone so I decided to put these few thoughts together to share with relatives and close friends.
John not only thought outside the box, he lived outside the box: societal norms and John infrequently met. His political beliefs were easy to describe. The label libertarian was an obvious early choice and lasted a life time based on his wish for autonomy, freedom to choose outside of society expectations, desire to not be judged and perhaps most significantly his anti-authority/ anti-government approach to living his life.
I witnessed his libertarian beliefs as I sat with him during the last week of his life. I was called in during the middle of the night oI witnessed his libertarian beliefs as I sat with him during the last week of his life. I was called in during the middle of the night on Dec 13 and told he wasn't expected to live through the night. John was having none of it and was not about to end his time on earth according to any predetermined medical protocols. A nurse with 20 years of palliative care experience told me he was now her record holder for lasting under these conditions. He held to Frank Sinatra's phrasing 'I'll do it my way'.
John's life as a minimalist began way before the term became mainstream. In fact I suspect he didn't use the description in recent times because he would not have wanted to be part of 'them'! While he had the intellectual capacity to pursue an academic career, he chose to complete an undergraduate degree in history not motivated by interest rather as he told me recently, "learning history required the least amount of effort". Graduation was followed by a few years of driving cab in Hawaii. He then returned to BC and embraced the lifestyle of the early 70's-short term work=long term unemployment insurance. He ultimately became certified as a 'time-keeper/1st Aid attendant' and worked for Greater Vancouver Regional District in that capacity for approximately 25 years.
I have likely said way more about John's work history than he would have spoken about had he been given the opportunity. His love and single focus was fast pitch. He began playing probably 40 years ago as an infielder. Something (he couldn't recall the event) triggered a desire to pitch and he began throwing to his good friend Jeff K, a catcher. As John would be happy to exclaim, the rest is history!!! He practiced and played April to September. His analytical mind convinced him that over time he could develop the perfect technique. He installed a floor to ceiling mirror in his small apartment and would spend hours every day year-round, throwing a soft ball at the mirror. Phone calls would consist of listening to John explain what he had recently mastered and claiming that 'next season it would all come together"! His team frequently won championships. One of his personal highlights was travelling to Australia and winning the world seniors championship! He was bedridden during the last 4 weeks of his life but he continued to work on the technique as long as his mind allowed. We took a ball to the hospice where he enjoyed telling tales to the nurses: as a 73-year-old he was still striking out or forcing infield pop-ups by 30-year-old home run hitters. One of his final visitors was a baseball pal. The 3 of us sat together and as would be fitting, told baseball stories. Ronnie finally said something to the effect that Jonny had 3 pitches: a change-up, a slower change-up and a really slow change-up! John nodded his head, smiled that mischievous smile of his and said "yeh but I got the mother f.. out!"
I thought as I fell asleep the night before he died that his spirit would meet up with our father and together, they would go in search of Babe Ruth. Perhaps when they met, the Babe would convince John that being traded to the Yankees was not such a bad thing and it was time to let go of the hatred he held against those dastardly Boston Red Sox.
John and I spent the last 6 weeks of his life reflecting and listening to music. While he may have come across to many folks as a hard core rock and roller which at times may have been correct, his true love was good old country music, rhythm and blues with a bit of folk thrown in. While we didn't discuss any specific favorites, I know he would have suggested the following be put on his list:
John Lennon- 'All we are saying is give peace a chance'
Patsy Cline- 'I fall to pieces each time I see you again- ' a reflection about to remain anonymous love!
Dolly Parton- Working Nine to Five,
What a Way to Make a Living Barely Getting By, it's All Taking and no Giving . They Just Use Your Mind, and they never give you credit It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it'- These lyrics brought a smile to his face every time!
Leonard Cohen's 'Bird on a Wire'- "Like a baby, stillborn/like a beast with his horn/I have torn everyone who reached out for me." "But I swear by this song/and by all that I have done wrong/I will make it all up to thee."
We spent a memorable afternoon during which time he was still thinking clearly, sharing some final thoughts. I think Cohen's final phrase 'I will make it all up to thee' perfectly reflects the message John wanted me to pass on to loved ones and close friends.
I loved my big brother and will dearly miss him. May you rest in peace for all eternity Jonny.
Johnny was always around the ballpark. [He] witnesses the incredible Loma comeback victories. He was a good friend. [He] won a game in the provincials in Victoria. Johnny was a big fan of Pete Meredith (ISC HoFer from New Zealand). Johnny loved being around the boys at the games and afterwards. He won Masters gold in Australia (1994 World Masters Games). Johnny was always working on the perfect delivery. [He] has a lot of respect for our [Meraloma] pitchers.
I would have first met Johnny while I was in elementary school, attending my dad's ball games at the Connaught North East diamond in the early 90s. I recall tagging along for practices at L'Ecole Bilingue Elementaire before the season started. Johnny would be tossing batting practice, which would have made him an accomplice to what I'm sure the school would have considered vandalism as some of the left-handed batters launched bombs into the windows of one of the annex buildings.
As I entered my twenties I began to play Fastpitch with a junior team out of the North Shore after calling hardball quits a couple years prior. At the time Johnny was playing for the Granville Islanders at Connaught. That year would be the only time I had live at bats against Johnny. In the following years I joined the Granville Islanders alongside Johnny before we both joined the new Loma startup in 2005. I was Johnny's teammate for nearly 15 years. In my younger years I would have probably said I was frustrated with the man on occasion as Johnny could be known to have strong opinions. In recent years, a little wiser, I know I appreciated having him as a teammate. He had me thinking outside the box on many occasions which subconsciously likely had an impact on how I thought about some things on and off the field.
Personally, there was no shortage of joy and happiness on the field when I witnessed opposing batters spin themselves into the dirt taking a big hack at one of Johnny's pitches.
I’m glad to have shared in Johnny's love and focus, as his brother put it. We got to share many championships and beers together. I hope he finds the same love and success in the big ball diamond in the sky.
Rest in peace #29