DETROIT — Ryan LaMarre’s feet were perched on the railing in the visitor’s dugout nearly three hours before game time.
Back in the clubhouse at Comerica Park, most of his Minnesota Twins teammates were being serenaded by Latin techno music. A few were playing cards. Others were taping up their wrists, ankles and the like.
But LaMarre was already dressed head-to-toe, looking out at the field and making sure that, this time, he took it all in.
He played at Comerica Park in a high school all-star game in 2007 and finished with multiple hits, but that’s about the extent of what he recalled from the afternoon.
However, he won’t forget the game on Tuesday when he started in center field on a warm evening against his boyhood team the Detroit Tigers in front of some 200 friends, family members, former teammates and fellow Jackson natives. He helped propel the Twins to a 6-4 victory.
It was his first big league game playing in his home state.
“I thought it was incredible,” LaMarre said. “I got to run into my grandparents, some cousins and friends in batting practice and say hi to them and say hi to some kids. Throughout the game I kept hearing people in the stadium. I’d look up and there’d be somebody I hadn’t seen in a long time.
“A very, very cool experience.”
LaMarre went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly in the third along with a bunt single in the fifth inning to cap a dream that didn’t seem likely a year ago.
“I’ve had quite a few injuries and low moments, but I feel like last year stands out (as the lowest),” he said. “So, if you had told me in June of 2017 that I would be here in June of 2018 and would have spent most of the year here, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I know I wouldn’t have.”
After a number of teams called following a solid 2016 in the Boston Red Sox organization, LaMarre chose to sign with the Los Angeles Angels in 2017. Less than one month after the season began, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics.
Ryan LaMarre’s wife, Whitney, was cheering for him, too.
“He just has this drive to him, that never-give-up mentality and he’s just learned so much on the mental side,” she said. “As you get that experience every day, that’s where I see him learning and getting stronger as a person and what makes me proud.”
His inner strength includes focus and humility.
“Our philosophy was always to act like you’ve been there before and don’t toot your own horn,” his father said. “If you earn it, people will compliment you. I think he always took that to heart, understood it and he’s remained humble.”
“He’s still the same Ryan and it goes not just for me, but the way I see him treat his buddies and stuff from Jackson,” said Alan Oaks, LaMarre’s teammate at the University of Michigan from 2008-10. “It just goes to show what type of guy he really is and how good of a friend he’s been to how many people. They all want to be there to support him.”
That was the same sentiment expressed by LaMarre’s uncle, Roger.
“I’ve seen more of this country than I ever would have if it wasn’t for him,” Roger LaMarre said. “I’ve followed him everywhere because he’s just such a good person and he’s such a good role model, honest to god.”