Friday, June 3, 2011

Erstad named head coach at Nebraska

Erstad given the reins at Nebraska (Photo: Huskers.com)
North Dakota native Darin Erstad has been hired as the head coach at the University of Nebraska. Some have seemed surprised by the hire as Erstad is less than two years removed from his major league playing career. His only coaching experience since his MLB retirement has been as a volunteer coach with the Huskers. Even Erstad seemed surprised at the announcement, "It's a little faster than I would have expected anything to ever happen. Sometimes things happen for a reason. This is the place and time, and let's do this thing."

Erstad's playing resume covers 14-seasons as a member of the Angels, White Sox, and Astros. The Angels selected him as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1995 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. During his tenure with the Angels, he would win three Gold Gloves and make two All-Star teams. He is the only player in MLB history to win a Gold Glove in the infield (1B) and the outfield (LF and CF). His only World Series Championship came with the Angels in 2002 and his team had to defeat the Twins on the way to the title.

Erstad offered a great quote for a man with no head coaching experience. When asked about his goals for the program he said, "Win the Big Ten championship, go to a regional, super regional and on to the College World Series. There are no points for second place in my book." Talk about confidence from a new coach.

A Legend in North Dakota: Erstad's senior season in American Legion Baseball was one for the books. He hit .495 with 18 HR, 86 RBI, and 21 DBL. His numbers were high enough to earn him MVP honors in the 1991 and 1992 state tournament. This also lead him to being a 13th-round pick in the 1992 MLB Draft.

Here are some headlines that span from Erstad's playing days in NoDak to his MLB career:

A Legend in North Dakota: Erstad's senior season in American Legion Baseball was one for the books. He hit .495 with 18 HR, 86 RBI, and 21 DBL. His numbers were high enough to earn him MVP honors in the 1991 and 1992 state tournament. This also lead him to being a 13th-round pick in the 1992 MLB Draft.

Angel in the Outfield & Infield: Erstad is the only player to win a Gold Glove in the infield and outfield. He is also the only player to win a Gold Glove at three positions: LF, CF, and 1B.

Playoff Stud: In 29 playoff games, Erstad had a .339 BA with 18 runs and 12 extra-base hits. Against the Twins in the 2002 ALCS, Erstad had a .364 BA with 1 HR and 2 RBI.

A Year to Remember in 2000: Erstad's best year as a big league ballplayer came in 2000. During that season, Erstad collected 240 hits to lead the American League and that number ranks 13th all-time for a single season. He ranked second in the AL in batting average (.355) behind Nomar Garciaparra (.372). Erstad won a Silver Slugger Award for his 25 HR, 100 RBI, 121 R, 28 SB, and 39 DBL. He won his first Gold Glove and was selected to his first All-Star Game.

An Angel for the Angels: Erstad statistically ranks as one of the best players in Angels franchise history. He ranks in the top five in multiple categories for the franchise. Some of these categories include hits, total bases, runs, RBI, doubles, and stolen bases.

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