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LB in MLB: Jon Singleton’s Return to Houston Produces Fireworks

It must have felt like a dream come true, and it was more than eight years in the making. As Jon Singleton sat on the grass at Minute Maid Park, with his wife, Linzy, and their two young children alongside them, the Houston sky was lit up with fireworks after an 11-3 Astros win.

Earlier that evening, it was Singleton who provided the fireworks, as he cranked a pair of no-doubt home runs, part of a career-best 5 RBI performance to lead his team to a win. It was a special homecoming for Singleton, who was playing his first game back home as an Astro since the 2015 season.

Linzy Singleton on Twitter: “Astros fans, dang this weekend was cool. What a welcome back. Jon & I both agreed it feels so familiar yet so much has changed for the better. Thank you for the warm welcome, see ya Friday! / Twitter”

Astros fans, dang this weekend was cool. What a welcome back. Jon & I both agreed it feels so familiar yet so much has changed for the better. Thank you for the warm welcome, see ya Friday!

Houston was where Singleton, 31, made his major league debut, and he’d surely spent years imagining nights like that in H-Town. An 8th round selection out of Millikan High, Singleton became a top prospect in the Astros organization before making his big league debut in 2014. He played parts of two MLB seasons, but his career was derailed due to a self-proclaimed addiction to marijuana. Singleton was suspended for multiple failed drug tests, testing positive for a substance which MLB no longer even tests for.

Despite those setbacks, Singleton worked his way back to the top, making his return to the big leagues earlier this season with the Milwaukee Brewers. Following his release, he was reunited with the Astor organization, allowing last Friday’s fairy tale to come to life.

“There was this moment in time where I wouldn’t say I didn’t imagine it, but it wasn’t even a thought in my mind,” Singleton told after his two-homer game. “But as life went on, things changed and it definitely was a thought in my mind that this could be my life again.”

He waited exactly eight years and 13 days between big league home runs, the longest stretch for any position player since 1997. And according to Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the longest home run drought to be snapped by a multi-homer game in MLB history.

Elsewhere around the big leagues, the playoff push is heating up and a number of Long Beach baseball alumni are right in the thick of it.

Lakewood grad J.P. Crawford has gotten better as the season has gotten longer for the Seattle Mariners, and he’s becoming one of the better all-around shortstops in baseball. As a Gold Glove fielder, Crawford’s offense has taken the next step this season and he’s blossomed into Seattle’s everyday leadoff hitter. Crawford ranks in the top 5 in several offensive categories among MLB shortstops, and leads all of his contemporaries in walks (68) and on-base percentage (.379) where he has a 27 point lead on Toronto’s Bo Bichette.

In fact, Crawford is in the Top 15 of all MLB hitters in OBP, making him an elite option at the top of any lineup. He’s on track for a career-best offensive season while helping the Mariners contend for an AL Wild Card spot, though he’s currently going through concussion protocol and is on the seven-day IL.

Wilson alum Aaron Hicks is also on the injured list, but is on a rehab assignment and should be back with the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles soon. Hicks had his season (and perhaps his career) revitalized after departing the Bronx earlier this season and landing with the O’s. He’s smacked six homers in 131 at-bats with 20 RBIs and a .349 OBP, all while playing stellar outfield defense.

In Boston, a few Long Beach guys are helping the Red Sox creep into the playoff picture. Long Beach native Justin Turner is a reliable presence in the heart of the order, batting .288 with 19 home runs and an .842 OPS. Former Long Beach State Dirtbag Jarren Duran has also been a spark plug for the BoSox, and he was one of the best players in baseball in the month of July. Duran hit .384 with a remarkable .658 slugging percentage and a 1.088 OPS in the month, with 14 of his 28 hits going for extra bases while racking up 19 runs scored and eight stolen bases.

Through 50 games in Atlanta, Lakewood alum Travis d’Arnaud is having another strong season behind the dish. He’s produced a solid .800 OPS and nine homers on the year, and he knows he’ll be with the Braves for at least another season after recently signing a one-year, $8 million extension with the club.

Finally, there’s another Millikan Ram doing big things in the big leagues as Cincinnati Reds rookie Spencer Steer is producing a very impressive season. He leads all rookies with 27 doubles and ranks near the top of the leaderboard with 18 home runs, 66 RBIs, and a strong .823 OPS through 115 games.

Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.