Braves coach Eric Young: NJ’s newest World Series champion
After a solid Major League Baseball career spanning 15 seasons (1992-2006) and years spent coaching in the Major Leagues, New Brunswick's very own Eric Young has finally brought home a World Series ring. He pulled off the feat as the first base coach and outfield instructor for the Atlanta Braves.
While the Garden State has no shortage of representation in professional sports, Eric Young's Jersey roots run particularly deep. More specifically, his ties to New Brunswick.
Eric Young was born in Hub City in 1967 and attended New Brunswick High School, where he became a multisport star, excelling in baseball and football.
After high school, he stayed in the neighborhood and enrolled at Rutgers University with a football scholarship, but in true "hello darkness my old friend" fashion, Young's passion for baseball wouldn't dissipate.
In his sophomore year at Rutgers, Eric Young began playing baseball in addition to football. He was able to balance the two for a while, but things eventually got complicated.
Young was selected to the collegiate league's all-star team that was going up against the U.S. Olympic squad. The crowd was to be littered with prominent Major League Baseball scouts. Sadly, EY couldn't make the trip.
The decision was made by then Rutgers Head Football Coach Dick Anderson.
According to the New York Times,
"The baseball game, which the Olympians won, 19-1, coincided with the date Rutgers football players were scheduled to report to camp."
Young wasn't happy, he told the Times, "If it was up to me, I would have gone and played baseball," adding, "I don't have any grudges. My first obligation is to football."
He graduated in 1989 with a business management degree and an award for the senior class's outstanding male athlete. According to the Society for American Baseball Research, when he graduated, he was the Rutgers baseball team’s career leader in runs, triples, and stolen bases. Young also graduated as the third-leading wide receiver in school history, catching 109 passes for 1,380 yards and nine touchdowns in his college football career.
Eric Young's contributions to the baseball and football programs at Rutgers earned him an induction into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001.
His decision on what sport to pursue after college remained up in the air. Then suddenly in June of 1989, another decision was seemingly made on his behalf.
The Los Angeles Dodgers selected him in the 43rd round of that year's amateur draft. Eric Young signed on the dotted line ten days later.
Young wound up spending most of his prime with the Colorado Rockies, but returned to L.A. later in his career, along with stints on five other teams.
Some of his standout moments include hitting the first home run at Mile High Stadium in 1993, the Rockies' home stadium in their inaugural season.
The funny thing is, EY wasn't ever known for his power. He made his money with his legs, stealing over 40 bases six times. He led the National League in steals with 53 in 1996.
That same year he stole six bases in one game against the Dodgers, the team that drafted him. One of those steals includes a swipe of home.
Eric Young's son, Eric Young, Jr., was also born in New Brunswick. He had a serviceable baseball career of his own, spending time with the New York Mets and having a cup of coffee with the Yankees. Following in his father's footsteps, Junior led the National League in stolen bases with 46 in 2014.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
For Eric Young, Sr. this World Series ring is a long time coming. All those years spent playing stickball on the streets of Middlesex County finally paid off.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 producer, writer, and host Joe Votruba. Any opinions expressed are his own.