BY STEVE KRAH
Brothers Lance and Austin Myers have been baseball teammates during various stages of their lives.
There was Evansville (Ind.) Youth Baseball West as youngsters, the Evansville Panthers travel team as teenagers, a few games together at Evansville Reitz High School and one fall at Vincennes (Ind.) University before donning the same uniform again in 2020 with the independent Liberation Professional Baseball League.
An answer to the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down or changed so many leagues, the four-team circuit is playing all its games at League Stadium in Huntingburg, Ind.
“If there’s after this, we get one more year of ball that we get to experience together,” says Lance Myers.
In his fourth year of pro ball, 27-year-old Lance Myers played in the independent Pecos League since 2017. He was with the Alpine (Texas) Cowboys through 2019 and was with the traveling Salina Stockade when he learned about the Liberation League.
“This is too good of an opportunity to pass up,” says Lance Myers, who is now a utility player (he’s played every position as a pro except shortstop and center field) and the manager of the LPBL’s Indy Windstorm.
Myers worked his connections to put the roster together. One of his invitees is his brother.
Austin Myers, 25, is a right-handed pitcher playing baseball for the first time in seven years.
“I’m just glad being back on a ball field doing what I love to do,” says Austin Myers, who is working himself back into shape and rediscovering his mechanics while recuperating from injury.
As the 36-game regular season winds down, the Windstorm (21-8) is in first place, followed by the BaseballResume.com Bandits (16-14), California Dogecoin (13-17) and Indiana Barn Owls (9-20).
The Bandits are managed by Albert Gonzalez and owned by pitcher Sam Burton.
Dodgcoin skipper Brian Williams is the league commissioner.
Derrick Pyles, a long-time indy ball player and hitting instructor formerly based in Avon, Ind., manages the Barn Owls.
Ray Ortega, a coach in the San Francisco Giants system, is also involved.
While Evansville is only 60 miles from Huntingburg, the Myers boys often stay with their aunt. Tina Dearing lives on First Street — two blocks from League Stadium.
Attendance at LPBL games has been hit-or-miss.
“A lot of people don’t know we’re here,” says Lance Myers. “But it is a good sports community (that supports Heritage Hills High School) and they’ve showed us a lot of love in the town when we go out to eat.”
Current plans call for the playoffs to begin Oct. 15. The No. 1 seed meets No. 4 and No. 2 takes on No. 3 in one game to advance to the best-of-3 finals.
Lance Myers, who was hitting .340 (32-of-94) in his first 22 games, wants to change the format. His plan would give the No. 1 seed a bye to the finals.
Lance Myers did not play his senior year at Reitz after three years with Greater Evansville Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Robin Courtney as coach.
After taking off a year, he played 111 games in two seasons at Vincennes U. for Chris Barney (earning all-National Junior College Athletic Association Region 12 honors in 2015) and two seasons at NCAA Division II Ashland (Ohio) University for American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer John Schaly.
“I loved Chris Barney,” says Lance, “He was definitely a good coach. I really enjoyed playing for him.
“He had an open door in his office and he or assistant Cole Vicars was always there if I wanted extra ground balls or batting practice. (Barney) definitely left a good impact on me. I want to give back to the guys playing for me now and in the future.”
Schaly has a career record of 1,180-645-7 amassed at Berry College (Ga.), Saint Leo (Fla.) University and Ashland U.
Lance Myers is impressed about how the coach still takes the time to stay in-touch.
“I get a call once or twice a year asking me how I’m doing or how my family is doing,” says Lance. “He still cares enough about me as an individual to take the time.”
Parents Wayne and Lisa Myers made the 410-mile trek from Evansville to Ashland for every home game. They can also be found with Austin’s three children — daughter Bristyl and sons Stetson and Remington — cheering on Lance, Austin and the Windstorm in Huntingburg.
Lance and Austin have three siblings — Ashley Bush (29), Zach Martin (24) and Amber Myers (23).
Lance Myers has been offered a couple of baseball coaching positions.
“My heart is not ready to be done playing yet,” says Lance. “And I’m playing well. I’m near the top of the league in offense and playing really good defense as well.”
Austin Myers plans to be ready if any pro tryouts come along for 2021.
“Meanwhile I’ll keep working out, working on mechanics and being the best I can be,” says Austin, who pitched 2/3 of an inning and has a single in his only at-bat.