February 27, 2009 - ROCKFORD - The Rockford Thunder announced today that veteran second baseman, Lindsay Gardner, has decided to forego the final two years of her contract and retire to pursue a new career opportunity.
Gardner, 28, played her entire five-year career in a Thunder uniform. She was the 2004 NPF Defensive Player of the Year as a rookie and league's first-ever winner of the Battle of the Bats contest as a replacement for Tonya Callahan. During her career, Gardner was a .238 (160-for-272) lifetime hitter, collecting 102 RBIs, 24 doubles, 13 homeruns, 41 sacrifices, 71 runs scored and 672 at-bats. She will retire from the Thunder either first or second in several offensive categories, including at-bats (2nd), hits (160 - 2nd), RBI (1st), doubles (2nd), homeruns (1st) and sacrifices (1st).
"This is a sad day for the Thunder organization, it's fans and the NPF," stated General Manager Aaron M. Moore. "Lindsay has meant more to this league than most players and she definitely leaves a legacy."
"Linds brought so much to the team, not only on the field, but with the fans of softball. We wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors."
FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM A LETTER WRITTEN BY LINDSAY
As many of you know, I chose to take some time off from coaching during the off playing season to promote the NPF by conducting softball clinics called Passion 4 the Game Clinics...Not only are the girls attending these clinics learning valuable softball skills, they are learning that there is life after high school and college softball - the National Pro Fastpitch league. While I have enjoyed my time inspiring young girls to become better at softball, I have also loved the chance to play for 5 years in the NPF. My time spent in the league has been amazing and my time away from it this off season has taken me a couple of different directions. Not only have I been able to put on clinics, but I have been able to make a little career out of my photography business. ...With all of this going on, I had another thing happen 2 weeks ago that has flipped my life in a different direction. A medical sales position opened for an Austin company that two of my friends work at. They have always told me I would be great at a job like this. ...Most of you know that I am a people person and I just love talking and getting to know everyone. With that in mind and a job position open, I decided to put my application in and see how I would do in an interview. Come to find out, the people hiring thought I would do great at this job as well, and offered me the position. Hesitatingly, I accepted.
So, with tears in my eyes and an awkward happy/sadness in my heart, I look forward to a new chapter of my life as I hang up my cleats and say goodbye to the only thing I’ve ever really known. For me, softball has been this amazing roller coaster ride that always seemed to be going up, always creating more possibilities, challenges and more ways to prove to myself that I am a great player in this game. I have come to the realization that I have nothing left to prove to myself. From being an ASA All-American and Gold Champion to being named Big XII Freshman of the Year and NCAA All-American, to playing with the USA National team to being named the first ever NPF Defensive Player of the Year and the Battle of the Bats Homerun Champion, I figure I have had a pretty good ride. More than that, I hope that I have inspired. I hope that I have expressed my love for the game in the way I played. I always tell the kids that I coach to remember one thing - “Play every day like it is your last - you never know when it really will be.” And though I thought this upcoming season was going to be my final season, I can walk away knowing that I have lived up to my own advice. I know in my heart that any time I have ever crossed those white lines, I have given it my all. With that said, I know that there is nothing more that I could have done to be a better player or a better role model. And knowing that, I look forward to creating a name for myself in “the real world.”
A special note to all the Thunder fans and people who have supported our team in any way during the 5 years of this organization: Thank you. Thank you for all of your love, and your undying support. … you all know who you are. I love you all! I have never felt so much constant support from so many fans than I have while playing in Rockford. You all have touched my life in a special way and I will never forget you. I hope to see you all when I come to Rockford one last time for my official retirement during the 2009 season. Please continue to support the team and the NPF. As they say in A League of Their Own, “If we don’t have fans, we don’t have a league.” That quote couldn’t be more true. You are why we play. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you all for everything.