Erickson recalls memorable MLB?career

NILES – No matter where life takes him, Scott Erickson is still haunted by the night of Oct. 9, 1996.

“Yeah I remember it and I can’t forget it,” the former big league pitcher said. “That kid cost me a win.”

We’ll get to “that kid” in a minute.

Erickson was starting on the mound in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series in Yankee Stadium. A right-handed pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, he threw 6 innings allowing two earned runs on seven hits. He struck out three batters, threw 97 pitches and was pulled with a 4-2 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Armando Benetiz delivered a fastball to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

Erickson will take it from here…

“Jeter hit a fly ball down the right field line. (Tony) Tarasco was camped under it for the out. Then, someone reaches over the fence on top of him and grabs it. Jeffrey-something. That’s all I need to remember about that kid.

“(Umpire Rich) Garcia calls it a home run and the next day he’s signing autographs in New York.”

In the 11th inning, Bernie Williams hit a walk-off home run, giving the Yankees momentum to win the series in four games before beating the Atlanta Braves in the World Series.

Jeffrey Maier, 11 years old at the time, who caught the Jeter home run ball, is as much a piece of infamous baseball history as Bill Buckner before him and Steve Bartman proceeding him.

Erickson, the new Mahoning Valley Scrappers pitching coach, has much more fond memories of his 16-year MLB career.

In 1991, he was an All-Star with the Minnesota Twins and finished second in the Cy Young voting after winning a World Series. On April 27, 1994 he pitched a no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers.

He even witnessed Cal Ripken Jr.’s historic streak of 2,632 games come to an end in 1998.

“It’s hard for a pitcher to make just 35 starts in a row year-after-year,” Erickson said. “It’s tough. For him to do it every day for over 2,000 games is nothing short of amazing. That season was pretty cool. Baltimore loves Cal.”

Erickson, a Long Beach, Calif. native, played for the Twins, Orioles, New York Mets, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Yankees before retiring in 2006. He tallied an overall record of 142-136 and finished with a 4.59 ERA with 1,252 strikeouts.

“Most of them in the clubhouse are so young they never even saw me play,” Erickson said. “They do their research and know that I did pitch a little bit. They’ll kind of believe me sometimes.”

Last year, he got his first coaching job with the Carolina Mudcats, the Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. His college catcher at the University of Arizona was hired by the organization as a roving hitting instructor and helped Erickson get hired, too.

For the past five years, Erickson participated in winter festivals for his former major league teams and ran charity golf tournaments.

“My golf game wasn’t getting better so I figured I needed to get back into something I do know, which is baseball, so its good,” he said. “It’s nice giving a little bit back to the game. The guys are very hard-working, they’re fun to be around and its rejuvinating a bit.”

Erickson is married to Lisa Guerrero, a former reporter for Fox Sports, Monday Night Football and Inside Edition. Erickson even has experience in show business. He founded a production company and was executive producer for a 2008 movie called “A Plumm Summer,” which starred Guerrero alongside Henry Winkler.

For now, though, he’s back to baseball and enjoying every minute of it.

“I don’t have any children, so this is like adopting 20 kids all of a sudden,” Erickson said. “Coming out here and having a good time – I enjoy it.”