Oct. 13, 2008
PHILADELPHIA - Brad Lidge takes the ball for the Phillies, but somewhere, the Irish eyes are smiling.
That's because Lidge is one of Notre Dame's own -- an alumnus who once was the Big East Conference pitcher of the year. That was in 1998, when Lidge went 8-2 and recorded 92 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings, and this year, the Philadelphia closer added the National League's Comeback Player of the Year Award to his resume.
Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame, wake up the echoes cheering her name.
The comeback nod for Lidge was well deserved.
In 41 save opportunities in the regular season, Lidge took the ball. On all of those 41 occasions, Lidge received the obligatory handshake from his catcher and extended his consecutive-saves streak to 44 with three saves carried over from last season with the Astros.
Lidge will need a season in 2009 similar to this one to match Eric Gagne's 84 consecutive-saves streak that ended in 2004.
Lidge notched 19 saves but blew eight opportunities last season in Houston, but he erased all the bad memories in 2008.
"I never lost confidence in myself, no matter what the years were like or the results," Lidge said. "I always felt I was going to come back and pitch to the best of my ability."
Phillies fans like those in Houston before them may be able to quickly point out that Lidge has pressed the issue, but accepting defeat on the mound, this season anyway, has been an alien concept, and Lidge would like that to continue.
Send a volley cheer on high, shake down the thunder from the sky!
The right-hander is making his third trip to the postseason and would like to make a return trip to the World Series. Lidge made two relief appearances for Houston in 2005, and took a pair of losses, as the White Sox swept the Astros to take the title.
Lidge allowed a walk-off homer to Scott Podsednik in Game 2 in that series and an RBI single to Jermaine Dye, which produced the lone run in the Game 4 clincher.
What though the odds be great or small, old Notre Dame will win over all.
The move to Philadelphia has changed the fortunes for Lidge, who was born in Sacramento, Calif. He attended Cherry Creek High School near Denver before moving on to Notre Dame.
There have been six former Notre Dame players to play on winning World Series teams, and Lidge would like to join that list. The last was Craig Counsell, who earned rings with the Marlins in 1997 and again in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.
The others were Cubs right-hander Ed Reulbach (1907-08), Red Sox pinch-hitter Jean Dubuc (1918), Tigers first baseman John McHale (1945) and Phillies right-hander Ron Reed (1980).
A couple of years ago, Lidge made the pilgrimage to the campus after the Fighting Irish had reached the NCAAs.
"It was awesome," Lidge told MLB.com. "It was nice to meet the next generation, which makes me sound old. It was good to go back in the clubhouse. Things haven't changed that much."
While her loyal sons are marching, onward to victory!
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.