11:29 PM, Jul. 8, 2011
Source: St. Cloud Times Article
COLD SPRING — Despite being married, a father to two children and a handful of years away from 40, Jeff Lindbloom of Cold Spring still can’t shake the reputation of being a big kid when it comes to sports.
“He’s kind of a kid at heart,” Lindbloom’s wife Sarah said. “He’s a sports fanatic, if he’s not watching it he’s playing it.”
Having been involved in sports since he was young, Lindbloom can’t deny the accusation.
“I’d say she’d hit it right on the head,” he said. “I’m definitely a big fanatic.”
If there was one sport in particular Lindbloom excelled at, it was baseball. After graduating from Rocori High School in 1994, Lindbloom went on to play two years of baseball at St. Cloud State before he chose to leave school. He’s also been playing amateur baseball for the Cold Spring Rockies for nearly 20 years.
But this past year the “kid at heart” had to face some tough times after a diagnosis of testicular cancer in the fall.
“We first learned of it in November,” Sarah Lindbloom said. “We actually had just got married in November as well ... what a way to start your married life.”
The news shook Lindbloom’s family — Sarah has two children from a previous marriage — and friends.
“I was pretty shocked,” Lindbloom’s longtime friend and teammate John Rossman said. “You don’t think of someone having cancer at such a young age.”
Rossman said his relationship with Lindbloom goes back as far as middle school. The duo could always be found playing something together, especially if it was sports related.
“Neither of us were the best basketball players in the world so we focused more on baseball,” Rossman said. “I started (playing for the Rockies) after my junior year in high school.”
Lindbloom, who initially played amateur ball with the Cold Spring Springers, joined a few seasons later and instantly had a bond with his new team.
When Lindbloom joined the team, there were at least five players from his graduating class on the squad, and while there are only two now — Lindbloom and Rossman — Lindbloom said the players on the team count among his best friends.
So when word got out the Lindbloom was battling cancer, his teammates took it upon themselves to fight the battle with him.
“I was diagnosed and had surgery in early December and I started chemo right after New Year’s in January,” Lindbloom said. “It was a little bit of a shock and kind of a reality check because my whole life I’ve never had these kinds of problems.”
Part of his routine was going to chemo therapy five days in a row over a span of nearly two months, which left him exhausted. Throughout the process, Lindbloom’s Rockies teammates did what they could to to help, whether it was a well-timed joke or bringing over some dinner to the Lindbloom household.
“Me and my wife and him and his wife are pretty good friends,” Rossman said.” “Any way that he wanted our support, we gave it.”
Lindbloom, who said he’s a pretty independent person, said it took some getting used to accept a helping hand but in the long run he didn’t know what he’d do without everyone’s support.
“That definitely helps to have that kind of support system,” Lindbloom said. “It makes you feel good throughout the process.”
Lindbloom’s friends and family said his good-hearted nature and a positive prognosis by doctors early in the process made the situation a little bit easier too.
So much so that Rossman figured his buddy would find a way to beat the disease.
“It’s easy because Jeff was positive through the whole thing,” Rossman said.
By March, Lindbloom was done with the more intense treatments and was on his way toward a full recovery, so naturally his next goal was to get back to the diamond. Rossman and his teammates didn’t see it happening so soon after such a huge hurdle but Lindbloom had other ideas.
When the team played pick-up basketball in the offseason to stay in shape, Lindbloom showed up at the gym ready to get in a few games.
“His mind and his heart wanted to do it but his legs just weren’t there,” Rossman said.
Lindbloom said he’d make it up and down the court a handful of times before being exhausted. His dream of getting back to baseball was still there, but he knew it might take a little more time. After missing a handful of his team’s games earlier in the spring, Lindbloom, who is a pitcher and plays third base, was finally able to take the mound this summer.
“I didn’t think there was any way he’d actually be able to get out there and play so early,” Sarah Lindbloom said. “He just wants to be out there with the guys, he just wants to be part of the team.”
“I found myself just watching him pitch the first couple pitches more than (watching) the actual play,” said Rossman, who plays first base. “It’s kind of surreal that it’s happened and his treatment’s done.”
Lindbloom has pitched relief in a handful of games this season and is also embracing his role as an assistant coach. But most importantly to his friends and family, he’s healthy and back doing what he loves. And to top it off, he went back to school and earned a degree in physical education and currently has a job lined up in the Buffalo school district this coming fall. He said he hopes to do some coaching if he gets the chance.
“I would say he’s really back to his old ways ... someone who didn’t know he went through that wouldn’t really have any idea,” Sarah Lindbloom said.
Through it all, Lindbloom said he’s learned that he’s got a great team behind him when life decides to throw him a curveball.
“I’d say the biggest thing that helped me is knowing that other people are there to help,” Lindbloom said. “It was kind to hard to get used to but the best thing I learned.”