On April 6, 2002, the Seattle Times wrote about local high school star Tim Lincecum for apparently the first time:
BELLEVUE — Tim Lincecum’s stellar relief pitching slammed the comeback door on defending state champion Newport and led Liberty to a 4-2 KingCo 3A baseball victory last night at Bannerwood Park.
The victory left Liberty (6-1, 6-2) alone atop the KingCo 3A standings. Newport (5-2, 5-4), which took its second loss of the week, dropped out of a first-place tie and into a three-way tie for second place with Issaquah and Skyline. The Knights lost 5-4 at Mount Si earlier this week.
Liberty led 3-0 before Newport came back with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, A.J. Jorg was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded after two walks and Nick Reese’s double. In the fifth, Newport got another run on a balk with runners at first and third — thanks to a walk and Jeff James’ single.
Then Lincecum came on in relief for Liberty. He allowed only one hit, walked nine [sic] and struck out six over the final 2-2/3 innings.
On April 24, 2002, Danny O’Neil of the Times added:
Liberty had six hits in seven innings against Issaquah yesterday. Five of them were singles, and none got past an outfielder, but that offense added up to a 3-1 victory over Issaquah in a game between two of the top three teams in the KingCo 3A baseball standings. . . .
Starting pitcher Tim Lincecum allowed only his second run in a league game yesterday as he pitched a complete game. He gave up four hits — never more than one in an inning — and struck out seven batters. He weighs only 138 pounds yet has a fastball that has been timed at 88 mph, and yesterday he ended three of the first five innings with a strikeout, each time with a runner on base.
Issaquah (10-4, 10-5) had the tying run at the plate with two outs in the seventh inning after Scott Suttmeier singled, but Lincecum got the final out of the game when Curtis hit a solid drive to center field that wasn’t deep enough to get over center fielder Mick Jordan’s head.
“I heard it off the bat, and I thought, ‘Oh no,’ ” Lincecum said. “But then I saw Micky trotting back under it.”
Lincecum is 4-1 with two saves this season and an earned-run average of 0.50 in league games.
On October 25, 2002, the Times added:
Liberty pitcher Tim Lincecum has made an oral commitment to play baseball at the University of Washington next year.
The 5-foot-10, 145-pound right-hander was 4-2 with four saves and a 0.85 earned-run average for the Patriots last season. He struck out 83 and walked 20 in 49-2/3 innings.
He said he chose the Huskies over Oregon State and Washington State.
Lincecum said he throws a fastball — which has been clocked as high as 94 mph — and three different kinds of curveballs.
“He’s phenomenal,” said Liberty Coach Glen Walker. “He’s going to make some waves. He’s a good one.”
And on March 28, 2003, as part of its high school roundup, the Times reported on his second game of the 2003 season:
Tim Lincecum missed a perfect game and wound up with a no-hitter yesterday as Liberty beat Interlake 4-1 in a KingCo 3A baseball game at Liberty High School.
Lincecum, a University of Washington baseball recruit, had a perfect game for 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander then walked the next two batters. He threw a wild pitch on a strikeout, then the catcher threw the ball over the third baseman’s head, allowing Interlake to score its lone run. The game ended when the leftfielder threw behind the runner at first base, picking him off for the third out.
Lincecum finished with 16 strikeouts.
Joe Tomich went 2 for 3 and drove in three runs for the Patriots, who evened their record at 1-1 in KingCo 3A and 2-2 overall. Garrett Kimbrel had a pair of hits for Liberty.
On April 4, he followed up with another no-hitter:
Senior right-hander Tim Lincecum pitched a no-hitter and struck out 13 in Liberty’s 9-0 KingCo 3A victory at Bellevue. He walked two.
And a one-hitter on the 14th:
Tim Lincecum, who has thrown two no-hitters this season, tossed a one-hitter and struck out 14 as Liberty handed Issaquah its first KingCo 3A baseball loss, 3-1.
On May 30 (still 2003), the Times added:
The glowing reports, the junior-varsity success, the numerous promises that the kid could pitch — let’s just say they didn’t make an immediate believer out of Glen Walker.
“I’m looking at this 5-foot-9, 120-pound body going, ‘How good can he be?’ ” said Walker, Liberty’s baseball coach.
Then one afternoon last spring, Walker threw the skinny kid with the live right arm into a positively treacherous save situation against conference-rival Skyline. One out. Man on second. Two all-state players, Dan Gronski and Derek Decater, due up.
Tim Lincecum struck them both out. Looking.
And from then on, Walker needed no convincing.
Lincecum, now a senior, has come a long way since that varsity debut.
He has grown to his current size of 5-10, 150 pounds, pumped up his fastball to where he can consistently throw 90 to 91 mph, earned an athletic scholarship to Washington and been named Gatorade State Player of the Year.
On Baseball America’s latest list of the state’s top draft-eligible prospects, Lincecum ranks sixth.
“I wanted to come out and be strong,” Lincecum said. “I didn’t want to sit back and wait for stuff to happen.”
The right-hander is 11-1 with a 0.83 earned-run average this season and has 170 strikeouts in 84-1/3 innings.
Lincecum threw another one-hitter to get Liberty to the Class 3A baseball title game: they won the championship, and in that June’s draft, he went in the 48th round to the Chicago Cubs. He went on to play for the Dodgers squad in the Washington all-state series in East Wenatchee that month, picking up a defensive MVP award in the two-day series. Then, he was named co-MVP for the all-state 3A baseball team for 2003: 12-1 with a 0.76 earned-run average and striking out 183 in 91-1/3 innings.
You can read more about Lincecum at Liberty and at the University of Washington by searching through the Seattle Times’ archives. And, as a postscript, here’s the Seattle Times sports cover for Lincecum’s second no-hitter: