JIM PETERS: Chesterton baseball team honors Bob Lambert

2013-05-16T17:00:00Z 2013-05-17T00:02:06Z JIM PETERS: Chesterton baseball team honors Bob LambertJim Peters Prep Beat nwitimes.com
May 16, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

If you've followed Northwest Indiana prep baseball this season, you know Chesterton's improbable run to the Duneland Athletic Conference title has arguably been the top story line of the spring.

The Trojans hadn't won the DAC since 1985, and with an inexperienced roster largely devoid of star power, they didn't realistically figure to be a serious contender for the top spot this year either.

"There weren't any people who predicted this would occur," coach Jack Campbell said. "We've had a lot of different people contributing in a lot of different ways. There's team chemistry involved. I don't know if I'd say magical, but it's been a special season."

Maybe there has been another factor. Maybe it's the hats.

The back of the Trojans caps are stitched with the initials 'BL' in the logo style of the Breakers travel baseball program Bob Lambert founded. Also a a volunteer assistant coach at Chesterton for several years, Lambert died unexpectedly Jan. 8 in Sarasota, Fla., where the family had relocated after Christine, the youngest of four children, graduated from Chesterton. He was only 54.

"It was a real shock," Campbell said. "He was an outstanding baseball guy, a great father and family man. It's something small, but we felt it was a way for us to show our appreciation for everything he did."

Lambert, a mortgage banker, played in college at Butler. He had three sons who all played for Chesterton -- David, Matt and John. All three also played Division I baseball. John, who was drafted three times, finished at North Carolina State, where he is now the director of baseball operations.

Their dad's legacy certainly lives on in them, but his touch extends beyond his bloodlines. The Breakers began as a Chesterton-based program, but soon extended to cover a much wider area incorporating numerous schools and communities.

"Bob loved the game," Campbell said. "A lot of people do things for certain reasons. Bob was one of those guys who did it all for the right reasons, to make kids better. His kids all played in college, but he didn't put them in front of everybody else."

John stopped by at a recent practice, where Campbell gave hats for him and his brothers.

Fittingly, one of Bob's former players, Chris Smith, has been an integral part of Chesterton's success.

"Without him, I wouldn't have the opportunity to play in college, or had the success I had," Smith said. "I also credit him for starting the chain of events that led me to teach and coach in (the) Duneland (Schools)."

Smith, who played four years for Lambert, does a lot of the pitch calling and has helped managed a staff that doesn't have an overpowering presence.

"We can call it, but we can't execute it," Campbell said. "Mitch (Kobitz) and (Aery) Pratt have command of all their pitches and have kept us in ball games. It's been an incredible thing, all the games we've had to play, seldom practicing. It kind of like (Bulls coach Tom) Thibodeau, with what he's said, 'Next man up.'"

Somewhere, Bob Lambert is smiling.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. reach him at jim.peters@nwi.com.

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