Oct. 20, 2011


Nine World Series Innings with Darin Erstad

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


We are taking a look at Division I head coaches who played in Major League Baseball’s World Series. Today we talk with Darin Erstad at Nebraska.


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 mark.


The 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.


Erstad 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 in 2004).


Erstad 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?

I was 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?

It is 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 the franchise?

Having 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.


Fourth 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?

Guess 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?

I 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?

I 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 school?

I have been very blessed to have great opportunities in my life. I have never taken anything for granted and never will.


Being 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?

I 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?

We had 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)