World Series Innings with
By Phil Stanton
are taking a look at Division I head coaches who played in Major
League Baseball’s World Series. Today we talk with Darin Erstad
was a volunteer assistant with the Cornhuskers a season ago
before taking over as head coach at his alma mater following the
2011 campaign. A two-sport standout for Nebraska, Erstad was an
All-American baseball player and a punter on the Huskers’ 1994
national championship football team, a squad that posted a 13-0
first overall pick in the 1995 MLB Draft by the Angels, Erstad
started his 14-year big league career a year later. He helped
the Angels win their first and only AL pennant and World Series
title in 2002.
batted .282 in his Major League career with nearly 1,700 hits.
The two-time All-Star became the first player in MLB history to
win Gold Gloves at three positions (LF in 2000, CF in 2002, 1B
took time to answer our questions.
First Inning – You were in the big leagues less than one year
after signing with the Angels, which didn’t happen as much then
as it does now. Were you surprised to get there so quickly?
surprised especially since I had not swung the bat very well the
previous couple of days. The manager, Don Long, came up to me in
the outfield in Edmonton. I thought he was going to yell at me
for playing poorly. Guess not, he said I was being called up!
Second Inning – How frustrating was it not to reach the playoffs
during your first six seasons?
always frustrating to be left out of the postseason but just
made more fuel for the fire. It made it that much greater when
we did make it for the first time.
Third Inning – How satisfying was it to be a wild card team in
2002 and beat the Yankees and Twins to win the first pennant for
a chance to win the whole thing is why we play this game. All we
needed to do was get our foot in the door. We did that and
showed anything can happen.
Inning – You batted .421 in the ALDS and .364 in the ALCS after
hitting .283 during the regular season. What was the key to your
success at the plate during the postseason?
I just got lucky at the right time of the year!
Fifth Inning – Anaheim trailed three games to two to the Giants
in the World Series before winning the final two games at home.
What did it mean to you to play in and win the World Series?
played baseball to win team championships. There is no greater
feeling in the sporting world than looking your teammates in
their eyes and knowing you are on top of the mountain.
Sixth Inning – Was there a key moment or play you remember most
from the 2002 World Series? What did you do with the ball you
caught for the final out?
remember everything. No particular play stood out. It was all
part of a great experience. The ball is in a box in my basement.
I tried to give it to Percival after the game and he told me to
keep it. I tried to give it to the Angels and they told me to
keep it. That is the type of team and organization I had the
honor to play for.
Seventh Inning – You are in a rare club of athletes who have won
a football national championship and a World Series ring. Do you
know of any others who can claim that? Do you think it is more
difficult to be a two-sport athlete today than when you were in
been very blessed to have great opportunities in my life. I have
never taken anything for granted and never will.
a two-sport athlete can be very taxing. You have to be
disciplined in your time management on and off the field. It is
challenging but worth every last sacrifice you have to make.
Eighth Inning – What has been your biggest adjustment from being
an assistant coach a year ago to now being head coach?
consider life one adjustment after another so I just adapt to
what is needed to be done.
Ninth Inning – How did fall ball go for the Cornhuskers and what
are your thoughts heading into the 2012 season?
a great fall. The guys played with a lot of intensity and I am
looking forward to the upcoming season.
(photos courtesy of Nebraska Media Relations Office)