Dave Selvig / Forum Communications Co., Published June 17 2010
Erstad admits that he's done
Instead of chasing down fly balls, Erstad spends his days corralling his 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, while helping feed the newest addition to the family – 3-month-old son Adam – a bottle.
“I couldn’t be much happier,” he said from his home in Lincoln, Neb. “I got to live a dream playing baseball for 14 years, now I’m getting to live the other side and it’s a blast.”
The Jamestown native has adjusted to life without the long road trips, constant time away from family and the physical toll on his body. Who will ever forget the head-long dives for fly balls on the surface of the Metrodome, or launching himself through the air to make a diving catch that ended with a crash into an outfield wall?
He’s had enough of that, and is at peace with his decision to move on.
“I’m done,” he said. “I had my time. I always said, ‘When I’m done, I’m done.’ ... I’m good.”
Good certainly summed up his 11 years with the California, Anaheim and then Los Angeles Angels after the franchise selected him with the first pick of the 1995 Major League Baseball draft after his stellar career at the University of Nebraska.
He also played one year for the Chicago White Sox, before spending the 2008-09 seasons with the Houston Astros.
“I don’t have any complaints. It was 14 very enjoyable years,” he said. “I gave my heart and soul to the game. I’m comfortable with my decision to move on.
“Do I miss it? Of course, I loved to play. But what I have at home is great, too.”
The back of Erstad’s baseball card pretty much tells the story.
He accumulated 1,697 hits, 124 home runs, 699 RBIs, 913 runs scored and 179 stolen bases in his 14 seasons, posting a .282 lifetime batting average. He was named to the American League All-Star team in 1998 and 2000.
But he was equally known for his defensive prowess. He’s the only player in baseball history to win Gold Glove awards as both an outfielder (2000, ’02) and infielder (2004). And all three came at different positions – center field, left field and first base – he’s the only player to ever do that.
The shining moment, though, came in 2002 when he caught the final out in Game 7 of the World Series, giving the Angels their only championship in team history.
Erstad played a key role in the Angels’ run to the title. He hit .421 in the American League Division Series against the Yankees, .364 against the Minnesota Twins in the ALCS and .300 against the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.
These days he enjoys watching baseball. After all, he still knows many of the players.
“I actually watch more than I thought I would,” he said. “When I’m feeding the baby I turn on the highlight shows and keep up to date.
“It’s kind of interesting, Aaron Boone is a good friend of mine and he’s on ESPN now. I love listening to him and razzing him.”
Don’t expect to see him on Baseball Tonight, or any other TV show, however.
“Commentating is not for me. I’d have a tough time critiquing other players because I know how hard the game is,” he said.
While his professional playing days are behind him, his brother Bryan has talked in the past about getting him an at-bat or two with the Jamestown Miller Lite Merchants. A family trip to Jamestown is planned for the same weekend the Merchants will be hosting their annual summer tournament, July 9-11 at Jack Brown Stadium, where both brothers starred for the Legion Eagles, albeit about a decade apart.
Could things come full circle that weekend?
“I haven’t taken any swings since my last swing in New York,” he said. “I’m not saying I won’t, I just haven’t taken any swings. I guess we’ll just have to see.”
Dave Selvig is the sports editor of the Jamestown Sun