Lowry moves on after pitching career cut short
Noah Lowry can barely hold his two young daughters with his left
arm, let alone contemplate ever throwing another pitch.
Even the simple task of taking the mound for a ceremonial first
toss practically makes him cringe. Lowry insists that would be
impossible with his troublesome left side and the regular pain he
still experiences despite four surgeries.
The very arm that made Lowry a first-round draft pick and landed
him a long-term contract at age 25 forced him out of baseball.
”I miss it. A big part of me misses it,” Lowry said. ”But
that’s life. Life is a lot of twists and turns. It’s a big part of
who I am and what I was.”
Now, he is in a good place – three years after his career ended
prematurely with a canceled throwing session, and nearly six years
since he last pitched in a major league game for the Giants.
Experiencing tingling and nerve problems in his pitching arm,
Lowry missed the final month in 2007 and still led San Francisco
with 14 wins.
These days, he lives just 55 miles north of AT&T Park in the
Sonoma wine country, where he and two partners bought Santa Rosa
Ski and Sports last August. He joined the Chamber of Commerce and
makes time to speak with young athletes.
Lowry is proud that his former Giants franchise captured two
World Series titles in the past three years.
”I feel like that ring is here already,” he said, touching his
heart with his hand. ”You’re with them emotionally.”
Lowry will return to the ballpark one day and revisit all the
memories of a career cut short, even the most painful ones. The
Giants say they will welcome him back whenever that day
As much as he would love to fling one last pitch – in a game or
otherwise – the 32-year-old knows full well his shoulder, neck,
forearm and elbow would tell him no.
”I could lob it up there, then click, clap, pop, boom, bang,
bing,” he said, demonstrating near his store’s sales counter a
circular motion of just how poorly his arm would perform. ”That’s
not how I want to be remembered.”
Not with a shoulder that has never recovered from all the wear
and tear, a left arm that has endured operations on each side of
his elbow, and a troublesome neck that will one day require fusing
and cause him to ”move like a robot,” as he puts it. He will
avoid that procedure as long as possible so he can continue to be
active with his children and do things he loves, like golf.
Lowry, selected 30th overall by San Francisco in the 2001
amateur draft, underwent four operations in three years, including
the opening of his upper chest area near the neck for the removal
of a couple of ribs to relieve a circulatory problem.
He knows the Giants medical staff tried to make him right.
”I have issues all over the place,” Lowry said with a smile of
his current self. ”Those guys over there, that staff, they’re good
people. They did everything they could possibly try to do with my
best interest at hand, their best interest. That organization is a
model organization, it really is, and should be respected and is
respected. Life moves on for us all, right?”
In the spring of 2008, he was diagnosed with exertional
compartment syndrome, an exercise-induced neuromuscular condition.
He struggled with control at spring training, returned to the Bay
Area for further tests and had surgery to repair the rare nerve
problem in his forearm.
He had hoped to return by mid-April but still was experiencing
the tingling sensation in his arm. Lowry rehabilitated that entire
season, then underwent arthroscopic surgery after the year on the
back of his pitching elbow to remove bone spurs.
By the time of Lowry’s neck procedure in May 2009, Lowry’s
agent, Damon Lapa, had accused the Giants of misdiagnosing the
”The Giants organization and its medical staff have always
treated Noah Lowry’s condition appropriately and with the utmost
care,” the team responded in a statement then. ”We have never
performed any medically inappropriate procedures on Mr.
Lowry is long past all of that. The Giants are, too – both sides
saddened he couldn’t keep pitching for the organization.
Lowry went 40-31 with a 4.03 ERA in 100 big league starts and
six relief appearances in parts of five big league seasons. He
earned nearly $11 million from major league contracts and his
signing bonus out of college.
”You hate to see anybody’s career end early,” Giants assistant
general manager Bobby Evans said. ”We drafted him. I’m a big Noah
Lowry guy. I remember him right after he signed, all the way to the
big leagues, his success, a multiyear deal. Nothing but good things
to say about Noah Lowry. It’s hard. I’m sure he was just going
through the difficulties of being hurt, year after year trying to
get yourself right. I know it was frustrating. He’s always been a
great kid. He’ll always be a Giant for us.”
The last the baseball world knew, Lowry was scheduled to throw
for scouts from about half the major league clubs in February 2010.
But it was too soon, Lowry’s body told him so. He hasn’t been on a
”Time falls off the map,” Lowry said. ”It was a wild ride
there for a little bit, but all things that I needed. It was, `Wow,
this is OK, but no it’s not OK and things are still going on, we’re
trying to get it better and things are still going on.”’
The low-key, outgoing Lowry – who was first on a pair of skis at
about age 5 – goes to work in a T-shirt and jeans, a black ”Nor
Cal” cap with the brim flipped up and his brown curly hair poking
out the back.
He is having a blast using some of business skills he learned at
Pepperdine, and others he taught himself by dabbling in the real
estate business and turning over houses while rehabilitating all
his injuries in Arizona. On a recent Sunday, the owners closed the
shop at one of the busiest areas of Santa Rosa and took their
entire staff on an outing to Lake Tahoe for one final day on the
Still, it hurts to hold his daughters, 2-year-old Averlee Rose
and nearly 3-month-old Anniston. While Lowry can still golf, other
activities that require gripping present a challenge. He is
committed to a healthy diet and says, ”I stay away from things I
There are no hard feelings now, and Lowry isn’t bitter about the
altered path of his career or life. He and his wife, Andrea, would
love to expand their family eventually – ”keep the family name
going,” Lowry said of adding a boy to his brood.
”Early on it was an emotional breakup, I feel like, but at the
same time, it’s water under the bridge in my world,” Lowry said.
”There were a lot of things I had to have done moving forward from
there. I’m just at a point in my life, from a physical standpoint
I’m beat up, I’m broken up. But I still have the rest of my body
and life about me and I gave everything I could give there, my
blood, sweat and tears, literally everything. I take from it a good
Andrea Lowry wouldn’t change things, despite how tough it was to
see her husband go through the injuries and early exit from the
game he so loved.
”I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason,” she
said. ”We feel blessed for the time that we spent with the San
Francisco Giants organization. Although at times the experience
tested our faith and strength, we move forward with great memories,
not to mention lasting friendships. … If I can tell you one thing
about Noah, it is that he is exceedingly driven, so I am truly
eager to see what the future holds for us and our two beautiful
And he will keep holding those little girls with his good
”Life brings us all sorts of things. Everything needed to
happen,” Lowry said. ”I’m left with what I’m left with, and I’m
still 80 percent good. I’ve still got my mind and body about me,
and the arm – I’ve got one of them.”