Age Discrimination? 30-Year-Old Former Minor Leaguer Sues Cincinnati Reds

Normally age discrimination cases involve members of the upper-middle-aged or silver-haired set who are passed over for promotions in favor of the younger, prettier, cheaper, brown-nosier set. But in Raleigh, North Carolina the plaintiff in such a case just hit his third decade on the planet.

That’s right. He’s 30.

According to a story by the Raleigh News and Observer and picked up by the Los Angeles Times, Garrison Lassiter has sued the Cincinnati Reds claiming he was turned away from some sort of tryout because he was not between the ages of 16 and 22.

On its face he has a point. If this is the only tryout likely to draw the attention of a big league club and he is blocked because of his age then, yes, I guess you can say that’s age discrimination. Of course, a college co-ed could also be sued for not agreeing to a date with the guy who’s back in school at age 53 because he’s creepy… and, well, “old.”

Also not knowing if there are other tryouts available, it’s hard to say whether denied access to this one event is a systemic failure by an organization to allow people of all ages to try out. We don’t hear about public tryouts much, I’m guessing because they don’t exist. If a player out of college wants to get a club’s attention, typically he will send video of his work to a big league club and will do the same overseas.

It’s unknown if Lassiter tried those options.

Regardless, at 30, he is essentially middle-aged for a baseball player and is being prevented from attempting to prove himself in an otherwise open tryout.

But the story doesn’t end there. Lassiter has already been in the minor leagues. After playing on the 2008 USA Junior National Team he was drafted in the 25th round by the New York Yankees. He played five years in the minors and hit .244. Not bad. But not great either.

So is this a case of age discrimination or has he already had his shot and now can’t come to grips with the fact that he wasn’t able to make the major leagues with the chance he was given?

I’d be inclined to support him outright if not for the fact he’s already sued the Yankees. Last year Lassiter claimed the Yankees tried to “deter other teams from signing him and violated his contract by playing him at a different position. He also “insisted in the lawsuit that the Yankees were being controlled by now-retired shortstop, Derek Jeter.”

Uh oh. That lawsuit —for $17.6 million—was dismissed by a federal judge

So throw that on the fire and it seems as if Mr. Lassiter —who gave up a chance to go to UNC Chapel Hill to play college ball— now has no career and —instead of going back to school— has decided to sue his way to a quick buck.

Neither Lassiter nor the Cincinnati Reds or available for a comment at the time the story ran.

As a failed ballplayer myself I empathize with Lassiter. The game —once you’ve played it and been around it— does have a certain hold on you which in no small part explains why I took over publishing duties for this periodical you’re reading right now.

Maybe Lassiter is the next Jim Morris who comes out of nowhere throwing 100 miles an hour and makes the big leagues. For others like Morris I hope Lassiter‘s suit is successful in that major league teams provide more open tryouts to players of all ages. We love nothing more then stories about a guy who almost gave up on his dream and then was able to realize it thanks to one more chance.

As far as a financial windfall for Lassiter I don’t think it’s warranted. A second chance should be enough. In fact I think I’ll go oil up my mitt and await the next post from the News and Observer.

Someone could use a 49-year-old knuckleballer, couldn’t they?

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