Dennis Lamp was a right-handed pitcher who racked up 96 major-league wins over the course of a 16-year career that saw him work for six different ballclubs. Three of his first four wins were shutouts. He worked most of his last 10 seasons as a reliever, with exactly half (48) of his wins coming in relief work.
His most remarkable season was 1985, when he was 11-0 for the Toronto Blue Jays, every one of the wins coming in relief. His was the second-best undefeated season ever, topped only by the New York Yankees’ Tom Zachary, who went 12-0 in 1929.1
Dennis Patrick Lamp was born to Ruth and Walter Lamp in Los Angeles on September 23, 1952. Walter Lamp worked for Standard Register, selling business forms. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, attended Boys High, and was a lifelong Dodgers fan.2 Ruth Nealon was from Scranton, Pennsylvania. The two married and in 1947 traveled west to Oakland, and then to Los Alamitos, California, near Long Beach. The couple had six children – five boys and one girl. The eldest boy was Mike. Then followed Walt, Dennis, Kevin, Mary Grace, and Brian.
Dennis was enamored of baseball from a young age. Walter Lamp told the Chicago Tribune’s Jerome Holtzman, “He was always involved with baseball. When he was 7 he was a batboy for a team in North Hollywood. He was so caught up in the game he forgot himself and caught a foul ball near third base. By the time he was 10 he was [working out] on the same teams with his older brothers. When they came home, all they would talk about is how hard Dennis could throw the ball.”3
The Lamp boys played Little League baseball on fields built by the local parents, including their their father, who provided the lumber.4 Even at 7, Dennis was throwing strikes to his older brother Walter, a catcher. By 9, Dennis was playing with kids three years older than he. His brother, Walt, said, “The manager told Dad, ‘Mark my words. Your son will be the best player in the league when he’s 12.’”5 The manager was right. At age 12, playing for the Squires in the Los Alamitos Little League, he pitched to a record of 21-0.
Dennis credited future major leaguer Andy Messersmith, who lived in nearly Anaheim, for some help in Little League. “He was heading to college at Cal-Berkeley at the time, and he showed me a few things in my mechanics. The next game I pitched, he was watching and I pitched a no-hitter – the only no-hitter I pitched in Little League.”6 Dennis also pitched six one-hitters that year.
The Lamp children went to Catholic schools –Dennis attended St. John Bosco High School of Bellflower, California. Lamp went 13-2 his senior year, struck out 127 batters and only allowed 48 hits in 94 innings.7 He caught the eye of scouts and was drafted out of high school by the Chicago Cubs in the third round of the June 1971 draft and signed after graduation. Later students from the school included future major-league stars Nomar Garciaparra and Evan Longoria.
Gene Handley, a longtime scout who sent 18 players to the big leagues, recommended Dennis to the Cubs. “I never ran into a signing like that, before or since,” Handley said. “I said to his father, ‘Where is he going to go to college?’ Usually, they tell me the boy got a scholarship to USC or Pepperdine or Arizona State. Dennis’ father was very honest. He said, ‘Gene, if he doesn’t play ball, I don’t know what he’s going to do.’”8
Dennis recalled, “Buddy Pritchard was a roving scout that worked with Gene – the other scout I saw on a pretty regular basis, but it was mostly Gene Handley. My high school coach, Larry Hilliard, kept things in the background because he didn’t want too many distractions for me in my senior year.”9
Assigned to rookie ball, Lamp pitched in 14 games for the Caldwell (Idaho) Cubs in the Pioneer League, compiling a record of 1-2 with an earned run average of 6.46. The Cubs deemed another year of rookie ball would be good for Lamp. In 1972, he had an ERA of 1.93 in 70 innings of work for the Gulf Coast League Cubs in Bradenton, going 7-2,10 with an improved ratio of strikeouts to walks.
In 1973, he pitched in both Single-A and Double-A ball. He was 6-4 (2.63) for the Quincy Cubs in the Midwest League and then 2-4 (4.69) in the Texas League for the Midland Cubs.
His 1974 season saw him start with Midland, drop back to Single-A Key West in the Florida State League, and then return to Midland. While with Key West, he won just 1-5, but his 1.47 ERA earned the promotion back to the higher level.
Two-plus more years of minor-league baseball followed, and Lamp stuck with it. He spent the 1975 season with Midland, going 7-5 with a 3.33 ERA. The Cubs liked what they saw and added him to their 40-man roster. In 1976, he advanced to the Triple-A Wichita Aeros in the American Association, where he was 8-14 (4.06) with a career-best 98 strikeouts.
He began 1977 with Wichita once more. He had a record of 11-4 (2.93), and when the White Sox acquired Steve Renko from the Cubs, Lamp was called up on August 18 to replace Renko. Cubs GM Bob Kennedy said, “Lamp has pitched eight outstanding games in a row for Wichita. He’s won them all and every one of them was a low-run game.”11
Lamp debuted at Wrigley Field on August 21 against the Los Angeles Dodgers when back spasms caused Rick Reuschel to miss his start.12 He worked 5 2/3 innings for Cubs manager Herman Franks, giving up five runs (all earned) which included a solo home run by Dodgers pitcher Rick Rhoden. Franks said after the game, “He was pretty good once he settled down. I wouldn’t be afraid to send him out there again. If we’d scored any runs, it might have been different. Heck, he was our best hitter.”13 Lamp singled in both at-bats. The Dodgers won, 5-1, in a game which saw the Cubs hit into five double plays.
Lamp appeared in 10 more games, which included two more starts in which he acquitted himself well, but he finished his first stretch with the Cubs with a record of 0-2 (6.30).
Lamp began the 1978 season with the Cubs, starting the fourth game of the season on April 10 against the Mets in New York. He gave up two runs in seven innings and lost, the Cubs being shut out by Craig Swan. Lamp lost his second start as well, giving up six runs in 3 1/3 innings against the visiting Pirates on April 15.
On April 21, the Mets were at Wrigley and Lamp faced Swan again. This time, the tables turned. Swan gave up four runs in six innings, while Lamp only gave up four base hits, a shutout the Cubs won, 5-0. Dave Kingman’s three-run homer was the big hit. It was Lamp’s first big-league win. He dedicated it to his parents in Los Alamitos.14
Lamp lost his next three decisions, the Cubs scoring a total of just one run over the course of the three games. His next win was a one-hit shutout in Chicago on June 9 against San Diego; the only hit a sixth-inning single by Gene Richards. Lamp singled in the third and fifth runs for the Cubs, his first runs batted in of the season. He acknowledged that he would have liked a no-hitter but noted, “You can pitch a no-hitter and lose the game. But no one has found a way to lose a shutout.”15
The poor run support Lamp received early continued throughout the 1978 season. Lamp finished 7-15, but with a 3.30 ERA. In his final 13 losses, the Cubs scored a total of 10 runs. The Chicago Baseball Writers Association named him the Cubs’ Rookie of the Year. Dave Nightingale wrote that he had recorded “perhaps the best 7-15 record in baseball history.”16
Despite struggling mightily in spring training in 1979, Lamp produced a winning record, going 11-10 (3.50). His first three decisions were all wins, 3-2 against the Cardinals and a 2-0 shutout of the Astros, both in April, and a 9-3 win over the Braves on May 5, all three at Wrigley Field. He wasn’t pitching any better than the prior year, he said; he was just getting better run support.17 His worst outing of the season soon followed – just one-third of an inning on May 17 against the visiting Phillies. He gave up six earned runs (the Phillies scored seven) in the first inning, but didn’t get the loss, as the teams were tied, 22-22, after eight innings. Mike Schmidt homered off Bruce Sutter in the top of the 10th and the Cubs failed to score. Another notable event in 1979 occurred on August 13. In the bottom of the fourth inning Lamp gave up a single to the Cardinals’ Lou Brock, the 3,000th base hit of Brock’s career.18
Other than that extraordinary 23-22 game, a familiar pattern repeated itself; in Lamp’s 10 losses, the Cubs scored just 14 runs. In his last seven losses, his team scored a total of only six runs.
In 1980 the Cubs finished in last place, 64-98. Lamp was 10-14, and recorded what would be the worst full-season ERA of his career: 5.20. He gave up four or more earned runs in 17 of his starts. A sinkerball pitcher, he had more difficulty than usual keeping the ball from rising in later innings.19 The Cubs defense didn’t help him. Chicago was last in the NL in turning balls in play into outs and led the National League in errors.
Near the end of spring training in 1981, the Cubs traded Lamp to the Chicago White Sox for left-hander Ken Kravec. Both needed a change of scenery. Plus, the White Sox needed a righty, and the Cubs needed a lefty. That Lamp could also serve as a reliever helped make him more attractive to the White Sox.20
Lamp lived in north suburban Evanston while playing for the Cubs. Asked if he changed residences after the trade to the South Side, he said, “No, no I didn’t. It was better, after night games, going along Lake Shore Drive. It seemed like an easier commute.”21
Lamp was used both as starter (10 games) and reliever (17 games), all but one of the starts coming over the last six weeks of the season. He began the season in relief and excelled, with an era of 2.09 through August. The season was interrupted by a players’ strike which lasted nearly two months. When play resumed, he worked more as a starter. “I had got my brains beat in the year before so [manager Tony La Russa] kind of weaned me into the position. It worked out for the better. I didn’t get distracted by the strike.” Lamp added that the White Sox “had a great facility there. They were putting mounds inside the stadium. During the wintertime, the head trainer would have us work out there – throw underneath there in the cold weather. That made a big difference.”
There was another notable hit collected off Lamp; during 4 2/3 innings of long relief against the Orioles on August 16, he only gave up three hits but one of them was Cal Ripken Jr.’s first major-league hit. Lamp’s best game of the year was a one-hitter in Milwaukee on August 25, the lone hit a leadoff bloop double by Robin Yount in the bottom of the ninth. Lamp finished with a 2.41 ERA and a record of 7-6 for the third-place White Sox.
Lamp’s 1982 season also saw a mix of starts (27) and relief stints, with a dozen of his 17 relief appearances coming in August when La Russa brought Richard Dotson and Steve Trout in from the bullpen and installed Lamp there. He served as the team’s closer for all but the last day of August, before reverting to starting in his final eight games. He finished 11-8 with a 3.99 ERA and five saves. The White Sox finished six games out of first place.
Lamp was featured in trade rumors, but La Russa valued him saying, “In some ways he’s our most valuable pitcher. He can start, go long, and some of our coaches think he’d be our best short man.”22
The 1983 White Sox finished first in the A.L. West with a record of 99-63. Lamp started five games, all in the first few weeks (including a two-hitter against the visiting Tigers on April 17), but worked the rest of the season exclusively in relief, appearing in 49 games, with 31 of them as the closer – a role he shared with Dick Tidrow and Salome Barojas. He finished 7-7 (3.71) and was credited with 15 saves – most on the team and a career high. Jerome Holtzman wrote that Lamp “played a vital role in the winning of the American League West.”23
Lamp took part in the postseason for the first time, as the White Sox played the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series, winning the first game but losing the next three and the series. Lamp closed each of those final three games without allowing a hit. He walked two, but in each game the Orioles already had a lead, which they maintained.
In January 1984, Lamp signed a five-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, saying the Jays had truly made him feel wanted.24 Working mostly in late-inning relief, he was 8-8 with an ERA of 4.55. (Three of the wins were in late-season starts) The Blue Jays finished second in the A.L. East, a full 15 games behind the Detroit Tigers.
Toronto won the division in 1985, as Lamp was a big part of their success, going 11-0 (3.32). “Dennis might be our MVP,” said manager Bobby Cox.25 He worked in 53 games, primarily in middle relief, setting up late-inning men Bill Caudill and Tom Henke.
Lamp credited self-hypnosis, which he learned from a priest, with helping to revitalize his career. “It made me concentrate and turned me into a more aggressive pitcher,” he said.26 He also credited Cox for telling him before the season not to worry about anything.27
Lamp pitched in three of seven games against the Kansas City Royals in the 1985 ALCS. Working in Games Two, Three, and Six, he threw a total of 9 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits, striking out 10 and walking one. Kansas City won Game Seven, however, earning a berth in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Chicago Baseball Writers honored him again, making him and Rick Reuschel (with the Pirates in 1985) co-recipients of the William Wrigley Comeback of the Year Award.
The 1986 Blue Jays dropped to fourth place, and Lamp had an off-year, too, with an ERA of 5.05 and a record of 2-6. When he lost April 20 to Kansas City, it was the first loss he had experienced in 19 months – since September 21, 1984, despite having worked 58 games in between the two losses. By the end of May Lamp had an ERA of 8.25. He characterized his pitching as “consistently inconsistent.”28 He progressively brought his ERA down by more than three runs, but it was still a disappointing year. That was true for many on the staff – the team ERA leapt from 3.31 to 4.08. In all, Lamp threw 73 innings in 40 appearances but was third man in the relief corps behind Tom Henke and Mark Eichhorn. The Blue Jays cut ties with him in October.29
Lamp, a 34-year-old free agent, signed with the Cleveland Indians on February 5, but they released him in late March. A month later, with the season underway, Lamp signed with the Oakland Athletics. He pitched for the A’s in 1987, 56 2/3 innings in 36 games, his 5.08 ERA virtually identical to the 5.05 the prior year. Working with pitching coach Dave Duncan, but also under manager Tony LaRussa once more – LaRussa now being with the Athletics – Lamp was 1-3, with each of the four decisions coming in starts between July 22 and August 7. His first win was in Detroit on July 22, raising his career mark against the Tigers to 9-0.
Oakland decided to look elsewhere for pitching; Lamp declared free agency on October 19.
At the beginning of January 1988, Lamp signed the first of three consecutive free agent contracts with the Boston Red Sox. .30 He had a good spring and made the Sox in 1988.
During the regular season, Lamp had brought his ERA down more than a run and a half from the prior year, to 3.48 (better than the team’s 3.97). As Wes Gardner was moved from a reliever to starter in midseason, Lamp got more work. He appeared in 46 games, throwing 82 2/3 innings and was 7-6 on the season. For the only time in his lengthy career, Lamp spent time on the disabled list, for three weeks after suffering an inflamed elbow, hurt during the August 5 game. He was an important part of the Boston bullpen, though Lee Smith was the closer and both Gardner and Bob Stanley worked substantially more innings. This was the year of “Morgan Magic” when manager Joe Morgan took over from John McNamara and the Red Sox won 12 in a row and 19 of the first 20 games after he had assumed the reins. The Red Sox won the A.L. East, by one game over the Tigers.
. Lamp felt the Red Sox “barely won the division. I think we kind of backed into it.” Lamp did not make an appearance as Oakland swept the Red Sox in the ALCS. He also had “a little adhesion pull on my elbow. I wasn’t the same, the last couple of weeks of the season.” The Boston baseball writers gave their Comeback Players of the Year award to three from the bullpen: Stanley, Mike Smithson, and Lamp.31
After an offseason workout regimen prescribed by the Red Sox, he had a strong 2.32 ERA in 1989 (best on the staff), going 4-2 in 42 games – mostly in long relief, as evidenced by the 112 1/3 innings. His second half of the season was much stronger than the first half.
Boston sportswriter Dan Shaughnessy called him “one of the best pitchers in baseball during the second half of the season.”32 Fans noticed; the BoSox Club named him their “man of the year” for 1989, and the Boston writers gave him their “Unsung Hero” award.33 Lamp himself said, “It was my best year.”34
The Red Sox acted quickly and in the first days of December signed him to a one-year contract with a club option for a second year.
Lamp had a similar workload in 1990 – 47 games and 105 2/3 innings. His record was 3-5, and his earned run average climbed to 4.68 – though for the first half of the season (through the end of June) his ERA was 2.68. Three rough outings in July pushed his ERA above 4.00. Then, Lamp and the rest of the bullpen struggled to find consistency as injuries and the bullpen’s ineffectiveness contributed to Boston’s near collapse in September and October.
Boston finished back in first place, two games ahead of the Blue Jays, but just as in 1988, was swept in four games by Oakland in the ALCS Lamp appeared in Game One. The Athletics led 2-1, but two were on base with nobody out in the top of the ninth when he relieved Jeff Gray. Both baserunners stole a base, one after the other. Jose Canseco hit a sacrifice fly, driving in Rickey Henderson. There followed an intentional walk, a ground-rule double, a single, and a walk. With the score 6-1, Rob Murphy relieved Lamp and three more runs scored before the inning was over. After six postseason games in which he had not allowed an earned run, Lamp was charged with four earned runs in just a third of an inning. Worse, he hurt his back and would not pitch again in the series.
He was 6-3 for the second place 1991 Red Sox. In 92 innings Lamp’s 4.70 ERA was significantly higher than the team’s 4.01 ERA. The Sox allowed the aging Lamp to become a free agent at the end of the season. Due to turn 40 in September, Lamp didn’t sign until the Pittsburgh Pirates added him during spring training. Placed with AAA Buffalo, Lamp was called to Pittsburgh early in the season. Back in the National League for the first time since 1980 with the Cubs, he spent a couple of months with the Pirates. He appeared in 21 games, 15 of them in May. He won one and lost one and had an ERA of 5.14 when he was released on June 11.
“I was trying all of spring training to try to catch up as much as possible,” he said. “I just ran out of gas.” When told the team planned to send him back to AAA, Lamp decided to retire.36
In 639 major-league games, Lamp finished his career with a record of 96-96 and a 3.93 ERA.As a batter, he hit .164, with seven RBIs and scored six runs.
Right after retiring, the family remained in New England. Lamp worked in sports media for a while, doing golf reports for Independent Sports Network out of Rhode Island. He worked the NBA Finals when Phoenix played the Bulls in 1993. But it wasn’t for long, Son Austin was born prematurely, weighing just four pounds at birth. Lamp was grateful for the medical care at Tufts in Boston which helped bring Austin through a fraught time. There were a number of medical procedures over a period of time. It was good he had retired from baseball. Simply put, Lamp said, “I had to take a hiatus for a good year and a half.”37
In April of 1994, Lamp moved to California. His first work was with Olympic Staffing. “Our brother Mike owned it,” explained Kevin Lamp, who as of 2022 still worked for the company. “ We help people find jobs in accounting and office, and Dennis worked with us as a business development manager for a few years. Brian worked there. The four brothers all worked together.” Their sister Mary Grace also worked for Olympic Staffing. After father Walter Lamp retired, he, too, worked part-time doing inventory. Brother Walt Lamp was a special education teacher and high school principal and also taught at St. John Bosco High School.
Dennis left Olympic in 1999. He took off several years and took up working the seafood counter at Bristol Farms until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “High-end seafood.” Lamp said. “In Corona Del Mar. Visitors come in there all the time, when they’re on vacation. Jim Palmer comes in. Jim Abbott. Shawn Green. Mark Melancon.”
At the start of 2022, Lamp lived in Orange County with his wife, Jan Mack Lamp. Dennis has three children from a first marriage: Hillary Lamp Tosi, Caroline Lamp, and Austin Lamp, and two grandchildren – Cecilia and Byron.
Given all the teams he had played with, Lamp was asked if there was one he rooted for more in the years since he played. “The Red Sox. I had a lot of fun with the Red Sox. Marty Barrett lived in the neighborhood where I was. Dwight Evans would come over to the house. We all kept in touch. Marty had a batting cage. It could be freezing cold but he’d give me the keys to the batting cage, so I would go in there and put all the balls in the pitching machine box and I would play catch, I would throw to the back screen every time. I would get 150 throws, throwing it back to the pitching machine and keep up my arm strength.”
Lamp praised the charity work the Red Sox did, particularly with the Jimmy Fund, which supports the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. “Ken Coleman, the announcer, when I lived in Cohasset, he would come by the house and say, ‘If you need a ride to the ballpark, I can take you there.’ He took me to the Jimmy Fund. That whole area where Fenway Park is, it’s like a medical facility. Mike Andrews, Rico Petrocelli – all the alumni were so close to the Jimmy Fund. Roger Clemens would do it all the time, visit there, when no one knew he was doing it. You’d see some of the young ones who were cured coming to the ballpark later. It was really amazing.”38
Last revised: January 26, 2022
Thanks to Rod Nelson and to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Thanks to both Kevin and Dennis Lamp.
This biography was reviewed by Paul Proia and David Bilmes and fact-checked by James Forr.
In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.org, SABR.org, and the Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball (eds., Lloyd Johnson and Miles Wolff (Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 2007).
1 Zachary went 12-0 with a 2.43 ERA.
2 Kevin Lamp, born 1956 and a younger brother to Dennis, recalled, “His dad and his uncle Harry used to take him to the games at Ebbets Field. He would remember games like they were yesterday. The main reason he came out here was my great-uncle Joe DaSilva was born in Brooklyn and had like a third-grade education. He came out here and was real instrumental in the Retail Clerks Union. My dad worked for the Retail Clerks Union and went to Boys High in Brooklyn.” Author interview with Kevin Lamp on July 19, 2021.
3 Jerome Holtzman, “Lamp’s Relief Not Just Comic,” Chicago Tribune, October 8, 1985: 3.
4 Author interview with Dennis Lamp on July 19, 2021.
5 Author interview with Kevin Lamp on July 19, 2021.
6 Seth Livingstone, “Mr. Versatility,” Diehard, April 1991: 17. Messersmith graduated from high school in Anaheim. Before he headed off to college, Western High School coach Dave Hernandez asked him to come and work out with some of the players. Email from Kevin Lamp, January 17, 2022.
7 Dennis Lamp player file, National Baseball Hall of Fame.
8 Holtzman, “Lamp’s Relief Not Just Comic.”
9 Author interview with Dennis Lamp on July 19, 2021.
10 “Brad Martin, the pitching coach who helped Bruce Sutter, pulled me aside. I had to spend another year in rookie ball, but I started getting the sinker down, and he really helped my career.” Livingstone.
11 Richard Dozer, “Renko crosses town to Sox,” Chicago Tribune, August 19, 1977: C-1.
12 Any pitcher is pitcher is nervous before his first time appearing on a major-league mound. As a sidenote, Lamp wore eyeglasses and one of the lenses popped out of the frame while he was warming up before the game, but he fitted it back in place.
13 Rick Talley, “Cubs can’t help Lamp,” Chicago Tribune, August 2, 1977: E-1.
14 Richard Dozer, “Heat’s off for Kingman, Lamp,” Chicago Tribune, April 22, 1978: G-1.
15 David Condon, “Lamp misses no-hitter, but clings to his priorities,” Chicago Tribune, June 10, 1978: H-3. He took pride that he hadn’t let up once Richards got the hit. See Associated Press, “Lamp’s One-Hitter Beats Padres,” Los Angeles Times, June 10, 1978: III-1.
16 Dave Nightingale, “Cubs’ Lamp runs to forget misfortunes of rookie year,” Chicago Tribune, March 7, 1979: D-3.
17 Cooper Rollow, “Lucky Lamp (3-0) hopes fortunes change for Cubs,” Chicago Tribune, May 22, 1979: C-3.
19 Dave Nightingale, “Lamp not automatic starter,” Chicago Tribune, February 26, 1981: C-2.
20 Dave Nightingale, “Cubs, Sox swap Lamp, Kravec,” Chicago Tribune, March 29, 1981: C-1.
21 July 19, 2021 interview. Lamp was quite happy with the White Sox, adding, “Tony LaRussa was there. He and Roland Hemond gave me a call. In 1980, I had the worst earned run average for a starter in the National League. It was like a new lease on life and I didn’t have to worry about changing cities. Bob Kennedy made the trade. He said, “I played for both the Cubs and the White Sox. You’ll enjoy it there.” Just about the time that I got picked up by the White Sox, Bill Veeck had sold the team to Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn. They ended up getting Greg Luzinski and Carlton Fisk and started solidifying the team for the future. It really worked out.”
22 Peter Gammons, “It’s time for managers to accentuate the positive,” Boston Globe, April 3, 1983: 82. The LaRussa quotation would have been helpful a couple of months earlier, when Lamp filed for salary arbitration, but lost.
23 Jerome Holtzman, “Sox ready to hear Lamp’s best pitch,” Chicago Tribune, December 20, 1983: C-3.
24 Mike Kiley, “Lamp finds a needy home,” Chicago Tribune, January 11, 1984: C-2.
25 Jerome Holtzman, “Denver Giants? All the pieces fit,” Chicago Tribune, September 15, 1985: 3. Asked the secret of his success, Lamp simply said, “I’m getting my first pitch over.”
26 Brian Schmitz, “Hypnosis Puts Lamp in Control,” Orlando Sentinel, October 12, 1985: B7.
28 Jerome Holtzman, “Blue Jays dead last, but they’re not buried,” Chicago Tribune, May 22, 1986: C-3.
29 Built into Lamp’s five-year deal was a provision that triggered the fourth and fifth years depending on the number of appearances he had in the second and third year. As he was approaching the threshold figure, the Jays started using him less frequently – even though the team started September only 3 ½ games behind the first-place Red Sox. Though clearly improving on the mound, he was only used three times in September. See details of the situation, with statements by both Lamp and his agent at Jerome Holtzman, “Blue Jays turn off Lamp with bonus clause benching,” Chicago Tribune, September 24, 1986: C-1, “Jays leaving Lamp in $1.2 million dark,” Chicago Tribune, September 25, 1986: BC-4. The Players’ Association filed a grievance on Lamp’s behalf but at the end of December it was denied.
30 Paul Harber, “Sox sign Lamp,” Boston Globe, January 6, 1988: 43.
31 Larry Whiteside, “Past and present share dinner dais,” Boston Globe, January 26, 1989: 26.
32 Dan Shaughnessy, “Lamp a bright spot,” Boston Globe, September 25, 1989: 35.
33 Reading the newspapers of the day, it is evident that media members enjoyed talking with Lamp. More than 20 years later, veteran sportswriter Sean McAdam – who covered the team for the Providence Journal – simply said, “He was a fun guy to talk to.” Author conversation with Sean McAdam on July 9, 2021. Manager Joe Morgan had taken advantage a couple of times. After a game in 1990 when the Red Sox had hit into two triple plays in the same game against the Twins, Morgan had Lamp join him in the manager’s office after the game (which the Red Sox won). “As Joe always says, you’ve got to stay out of the double play. And tonight we did,” said Lamp with a grin. “We didn’t leave too many runners on base, did we?” Stephen Krasner, “Bolton hurls history aside 8-inning shutout negates Twin tiple plays,” Providence Journal, July 19, 1990: E-01.
34 Bob Ryan, “Lamp bright light for Sox,” Boston Globe, December 14, 1989: 43.
35 Sarah G. White, “A Shining Season,” Diehard, November 1969: 12. Rob Murphy and Rick Cerone both added appreciation of Lamp’s role of entertainer in the bullpen. Sometimes he would play announcer and call the game.
36 A few years later,” he recalled, “I ran into a pitcher by the name of Cooke [Steve Cooke] and he told me, ‘Because you didn’t come back, I ended up getting to Triple A and then had my first days in the major leagues – because you retired.’ That was cool.”
37 Author interview with Dennis Lamp on July 19, 2021.
38 Both Ken Coleman and, later, Mike Andrews have served as chairman of the Jimmy Fund, one of the leading institutions fighting cancer in children.