There is a lot of excitement surrounding the New York Mets, with new owner Steve Cohen and the recent trade with Cleveland that brought shortstop Francisco Lindor to Queens.
But for Lorenzo Bundy, 62, a former slugger for James Madison University, there is also a lot of uncertainty. The ex-Valley Baseball League and RCBL star is still waiting to hear from the Mets about his assignment as a minor-league instructor for the 2021 season.
Bundy, who hit 36 homers (tied for career third-best) at JMU, was scheduled to be the manager of the Double-A Binghamton team in New York last year but the pandemic canceled the 2020 campaign.
“I am still waiting on my assignment,” Bundy told the News-Record on Thursday from his home in Arizona. “It is kind of interesting what they have going on right now. I am pretty optimistic as far as thinking it is going to be a manager’s job. The question is where.”
“Our minor league director (Jared Banner) that was with the organization last year is no longer with the organization. So there is some changes that have been made. Obviously, for the organization, it is an exciting time with the new owner,” Bundy added.
Mets’ fans are excited after the recent trade with the Indians. Bundy was in spring training in Florida with the Mets when the pandemic shut down pro sports in March.
“The move with Lindor and (pitcher) Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland makes people think big, obviously. The minor leagues, the structure has changed a lot in terms of (40) teams being contracted and all of this stuff,” Bundy said. “I understand Brooklyn will be our High-A team. What league? I don’t know. There are still a lot of question marks out there. We have yet to receive our assignments.”
Bundy was told by the Mets in November that they wanted him back for the 2021 season.
“That has been pretty much it. I have been filling out paperwork and questionnaires for the organization,” he said.
Bundy recently returned from Mexico, where he was a manager there for the 26th season. A former Triple-A player for Pittsburgh, the product of Tappahannock was also a standout first baseman in the Mexican League as a player. Bundy speaks fluent Spanish; his wife is from Mexico.
“We got home Monday,” he said. “I decided to go back and do winter ball again. Every winter for the past 35 years, I have been going as a player or manager. I finally made the decision back in August — I sat down with my wife, we had been home for six months from spring training — and I decided I need to get back to what I do. I just felt like I needed to go. Fortunately we were able to take care of ourselves as far as the virus.”
“The first week were down there my wife (Lupita) and I were walking and she fell and broke her arm. That was another hurdle that we had to deal with. Fortunately for her she is getting better. I am trying to set up therapy for her,” he added.
Bundy was the MVP for New Market in the Valley League and also played for Shenandoah in the RCBL. He began his pro career in the Texas system in 1981 after he went undrafted out of JMU — he was drafted out of high school by the Orioles but decided to play for the Dukes and the late Brad Babcock.
“A guy that worked so hard and had nothing given to him, the first one in his family to even think about college. He is the kind of guy that you want good things to happen to,” Babcock told the News-Record last year about Bundy, just weeks before the coach died.
Bundy has been a coach in the Major Leagues for the Dodgers, Marlins, D-backs and Rockies. He was sad for the loss of Tommy Lasorda, the former Dodgers’ manager and player who died last week at the age of 93.
“I think Skipper had a plan. The perfect script was the Dodgers winning the World Series and then Tommy taking his spot in baseball heaven,” Bundy noted. “He was always a big supporter of mine and I will forever be indebted to him. May he rest in peace.”
Another of Bundy’s former teams, the Marlins, recently hired Kim Ng to be the first woman general manager in the majors. Closer to home, Lisa Hart of Timberville earlier this month became the first female commissioner of the RCBL.
“It has been a long time coming,” Bundy said. “We saw some of it start last year with the Giants having a coach in the big leagues. It is interesting. Obviously, all of these women are very intelligent. They have a knowledge of baseball. I think that is where our society is going right now. The opportunities are opening up and deservedly so.”
Bundy grew up in the Northern Neck of Virginia and has family members in the capital region. He has seen the images of the riot in Washington, D.C. last week at the U.S. Capitol.
“Sad. Just really sad,” he said. “We all consider the Capitol sacred ground. This is where our government leaders meet. They do the best they can to lead our country. We crossed the line. There is no doubt about it. You don’t do things like that. Hopefully, it is something we can learn from and move forward with to try and put our country back together. I am not a very political person, per se. We are all Americans. We need to figure out was is best for America. Obviously, that wasn’t the best way to go about it.”