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Older and Wiser Lindsey thankful for chance to
finish degree he started and give back to A&M
by Rusty Burson
12th Man Magazine
The last time Dell Lindsey dressed in a Texas A&M uniform was 15 years ago, when the junior college transfer played a major role in leading the 1999 Aggies to the College World Series.
Since that time, Lindsey has pursued a professional baseball career, returned to A&M to finish his degree, prospered as a salesman in the oil and gas industry, married the woman of his dreams and become a father, among other things.
During the last 15 years, the 35-year-old Lindsey says he has also gained an invaluable attribute that he wished he possessed as a student-athlete at A&M: a mature perspective.
On the other hand, if Dell Lindsey in his mid-30s could somehow speak to the cocky 20-year-old version of himself there might be a fight.
“I wish I could smack (the 20-year-old version of me) across the face,” Lindsey said recently with a laugh. “I’d tell him, ‘Hey, seize the moment right now. Understand where you are at and what you are doing. I think in some instances I did, but in some instances, I did not. I’m so thankful for the second chance (to return) to Texas A&M and finish what I started.”
During his one season at A&M, Lindsey produced some great numbers at the plate, hitting .305 with 14 homers (third best on the team) and 59 RBI, as the ’99 Aggies obliterated single-season school records for hits (804), total bases (1,396) and home runs (125).
Lindsey, who transferred to A&M from Blinn Junior College, started 66 of the Aggies’ 70 games and displayed a cannon arm at third base. Most significantly, Lindsey helped A&M win 52 games and claim the 1999 Big 12 championship before advancing to the CWS.
The personable Lindsey has no misgivings regarding his baseball productivity in Aggieland. But that doesn’t mean he has no regrets about his first tenure at Texas A&M.
If Lindsey could do it all over again, he says he’d spend as much time in the classroom as he spent in the batting cage, and he’d place as much emphasis on maintaining a high GPA as he did on his OBP. Regrettably, Lindsey acknowledges that in his young 20s, he viewed A&M as merely a stepping stone to pro baseball.
He heard what former A&M head coach Mark Johnson and so many others were preaching regarding the value of an education, but at the time, Lindsey believed he was destined for future fame and fortune in Major League Baseball.
“Coach Johnson and the whole baseball staff were pushing me to go to class, but I decided not to for a lot of reasons,” said Lindsey, who also led the ’99 Aggies with an 85.7 percent success rate in stolen base attempts. “I was thinking that I was going to go play pro ball. I can come (earn a degree) later. I wasn’t really appreciating what was right in front of me.”
The first eye-opening disappointment for Lindsey following the ’99 season was that he was not drafted. Coming out of Houston’s North Shore High School, Lindsey had been drafted in the 28th round by the Orioles. One year later, following his first season at Blinn, the Mariners selected him in the 33rd round MLB June Amateur Draft.
Despite not being drafted following the ’99 college season, Lindsey signed with the Angels’ organization and had a great rookie season with the Butte (Mont.) Copper Kings of the Pioneer League. He spent three full seasons chasing his MLB dreams and playing in locations like Cedar Rapids, Ia. and Spokane, Wash., but he never made it past the single-A level with the Angels’ and Royals’ organizations.
“I gave it a shot, but there’s such a difference between college and pro ball,” Lindsey said. “Pro ball is such a business, and you don’t get close with people. (After three seasons), I weighed my options, and I knew they would keep me around forever because I had enough talent (to stay in the minors). But there are guys who play in the minor leagues for eight to 10 years and never make it to the majors. I didn’t want that. I decided I was going to go back to school while I was young and didn’t have a family yet.”
Lindsey came back to A&M in 2001, serving as a student assistant coach under Mark Johnson while working toward his degree. Because he had left A&M in poor academic standing following the ’99 season, Lindsey didn’t receive his Big 12 championship ring. But before he left for pro ball, former A&M athletic director Wally Groff had vowed to Lindsey that if he would eventually come back to A&M to make progress toward his degree that Groff would present him with the championship ring.
“I went to Wally when I came back and talked to him,” Lindsey recalled. “I took full responsibility for what I had done. He was gracious to me. It was an amazing moment for me after (completing) the first semester. I was at baseball practice. Coach Johnson let me help as a student coach. We were out there helping the guys and coaching. Wally Groff shows up at the baseball field and pulls me to the side.
“He tells me he is so proud of me and presents my Big 12 championship/College World Series ring at baseball practice. It was an emotional moment for me. After Wally left, Coach Johnson came up to me and told me he was proud of me and that in all his time as head coach at A&M that Wally had been to practice maybe one other time. Wally came that day to honor his agreement to me and I was so thankful for that.”
Finally earning that ring was a thrill, Lindsey says. But the next ring he earned was even more fulfilling. Lindsey, who walked the graduation stage in December 2004, says couldn’t have ever imagined when he first arrived at A&M in the fall of 1998 that he would one day have such an appreciation of his Aggie ring.
“This (Aggie ring) is the one I wear even more than my Big 12 championship ring,” he said. “I love my teammates, and they mean the world to me. But having this ring, this is a dream come true. This is something I never thought I would ever accomplish when I was a baseball player because I was not thinking about getting my college degree. Baseball is so structured in a certain way that you are thinking about getting to the Major Leagues as fast as you can.
“Coming back to school I was able to realize how important Texas A&M was to me, and all the people I met (welcomed me with) open arms. Not only just the people I met at the school, but also the people who helped me in the business world. So many Aggies have been influential and have helped me with my career now. It has helped me be able to provide for my family. I am so happy I came to A&M and then came back to finish my degree.”
Ironically, Lindsey spent much of his adolescence thinking he would eventually play against the Aggies, not for them. In high school, he had visions of playing for Rice. Lindsey’s father had once taken a racquetball class from Wayne Graham at San Jacinto, and when Graham became the head baseball coach at Rice in 1992, the younger Lindsey began envisioning a future with the Owls
All that changed, however, when Lindsey, at the urging of his coaches at Blinn, decided to visit Texas A&M.
“When I was trying to decide where I wanted to go, I took visits and talked to (practically) everybody in the country,” said Lindsey, now a senior sales engineer in Houston at Pentair. “I was indifferent. I had no real place where I wanted to go other than Rice because Coach Graham was there. I came on a visit here and I walked in the locker room after speaking to Coach Johnson and (former assistant coach Jim) Lawler.
“John Scheschuk, who (had gone to Dobie High in Pasadena) was someone who I idolized growing up in Houston. He walks up to me with his arms open and gives me the biggest hug. He says welcome and tells me to come talk to all the guys. In that moment, I decided I was coming to Texas A&M. I still had a visit I was supposed to take to Alabama, and they were offering me a large scholarship. I didn’t even go. I didn’t visit because when I came back in the (coaches) offices, Coach Johnson says, ‘So, what did you think after the tour and the visit?’ I said, ‘Well, I think I want to sign here.’ He was shocked. He jumped up and got me a letter-of-intent, and I signed it. I was here one year and played with the best group of guys I have ever played baseball with in my life.”
After earning his degree from A&M, Lindsey landed several different jobs in the Houston area and eventually met his wife, Amanda. The couple has one 4-year-old boy, Cordell Lindsey IV, and another boy on the way, who is due in June.
Lindsey says he loves what he is doing personally and professionally, and he also loves being involved with A&M athletics once again through the Texas A&M Lettermen’s Association.
“I was connected to Cathy Capps (assistant athletic director for the Lettermen’s Association) through LinkedIn, and one day she sent me an email asking if I wanted to be involved with the Hall of Fame committee,” Lindsey recalled. “I started getting involved, and I ran into Scheschuk, who always seems to be a driving force in my life. He said, ‘Hey man, I need to get you more involved.’
“Last year, John Scheschuk was our president. He called me after serving on this board for probably two years, and asked me to step my game up. He said he wanted me to become one of the officers Sure enough, it went to a vote and I was voted in as an officer. I’m so honored to be a part of the organization and to be connected to A&M once again.”
Fifteen years ago, Lindsey never dreamed being connected to A&M would be so meaningful to him. Of course, the Dell Lindsey of 15 years ago had much to learn. Just ask the older, wiser and more grounded Dell Lindsey of today.