Lem Pilkinton’s baseball past plays a big part in his expertise with the game he loves. A member of the baseball teams at John Overton High School and Columbia State Community College, Lem’s amateur baseball days included playing for Shoetiques in the Bellevue Babe Ruth league (age 13-15) and at Shelby Park (age 16-18).
He played professionally for various teams in ballparks across the country under the affiliation of the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, and Seattle Mariners.
Lem was drafted twice. He was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 23rd round of the 1984 MLB June Amateur Draft when he was attending Overton High School. While at Columbia State two years later, he was selected in the 11th round of the Regular Phase of the 1986 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox. He signed with the major league club as a catcher and first baseman.
His minor league career began with rookie ball at Elmira in the New York-Penn League in 1986, Greensboro in the South Atlantic League in 1987, a return to the SALLY league in 1988 with Myrtle Beach, ending with Peninsula in 1989 and 1990 in the Carolina League. Along the way his teammates included Curt Schilling, Bob Boone, Brett Boone, Derek Bell, Mike Timlin, Jeff Nelson, and John Mitchell.
That would not end his participation in baseball as he began coaching in the Southern League in 1991. In 1992 he coached in the California and Northwest leagues and fondly remembers team members Desi Relaford, Chris Widger, and Mike Hampton.
Special memories include playing in Durham Athletic Park in 1989 about a month after the movie “Bull Durham” was released, being in Palm Springs in 1992 when the temperature was 124 degrees, and that same season being in San Bernardino during the Los Angeles riots.
Nashville’s Greer Stadium holds a special place in his memory, too, as he recalls his favorite Nashville Sounds players.
“Just a great place to go watch professional ballplayers as a young kid: Willie McGee, Don Mattingly, Steve Balboni, Buck Showalter, and Dave Van Gorder.
Lem is owner of Hit After Hit Baseball Academy in Nashville, where he uses his playing and coaching career experiences to instruct local players. He is eager to share his understanding of the game he loves and his knowledge of baseball.
“Passing the game along to the next generation to help them learn how the game should be played gives me a chance to give back to some of the younger kids who might be tomorrow’s big leaguers.