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Dennis Lamp sells fish in grocery store

lampHere’s something you probably won’t find in any other grocery store outside the Bristol Farms in Newport Beach: a former major league pitcher manning the seafood counter.

And it’s no publicity stunt.
Though Dennis Lamp fields the occasional autograph request, most shoppers seem to have no idea that the burly, outgoing man handling their halibut once came within three outs of pitching a no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The name tag pinned to his red-and-white checkered shirt — “Dennis L.” — provides only this added detail: “Providing extraordinary service since 2004.”

Lamp, 58, was not hired to glad hand or tell tales of his 16 seasons in the majors from 1977 to 1992.

He was hired to work.

“It doesn’t matter if he was a major league baseball player,” store manager Eric Fuchser says of Lamp, the recent winner of a customer-service award. “He’s a great employee — great with the customers, and just a kindhearted man. …

“He talks sports. He sells fish. He works hard.”

If fetching flounder or scooping scallops in a grocery store sounds like a comedown for someone whose one-time career ambition was to pitch in the World Series, so be it.

Lamp doesn’t see it that way.

Though a 1999 divorce rocked him financially, the father of three says he is not broke.

He made about $4.5 million in the majors.

“I just enjoy working,” he says.