Growing up, there was nothing I loved more than the LA Angels… but most of all, Darin Erstad.
The one part of my childhood I remember thoroughly enjoying every day was waking up to get ready for school and my mom telling me how Erstad performed in last night’s LA Angels game. He was not just my favorite player, but her’s as well. I guess you could say I was (am) a bit of a momma’s boy.
It was more than just Erstad’s play that won me and my mom over though. My mom and I have the same birthday, June 4th, which also happens to be Erstad’s birthday. Do you know how cool it was for four-year old Vincent to share a birthday with an Angels player? I would have worn a shirt saying “Share’s a birthday with Darin Erstad” to school every day of the week if I had had one to wear.
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The similarities don’t stop there though. Erstad and I were both left-handed. I vividly remember mimicking his batting stance in a mirror when I got my first wiffle ball bat. Widened feet, slightly open to the right, knees bent in, slight step, drop the hips and flip them open upon contact.
You can bet everything in your bank account the reason I wanted to play first base and outfield when I started in Little League was because of Erstad, too.
The 2002 World Series run was special. While I don’t remember it all play-by-play, I remember reenacting the final out of Game 7 approximately 3,892 times since Erstad caught that ball and made history. While my youthful drowsiness ultimately kept me from watching most of the classic series against the Giants, at least I can say I’ve been alive for an Angels’ World Series, unlike the Dodgers fans that surrounded me (and then have an extra 15 years on me!).
When Erstad became a White Sox, then an Astro, I remained a fan. I have proudly owned more than a handful of Erstad jerseys in my life, including a White Sox edition, Houston edition, and a signed 2002 version as well (because of course).
No one on the planet made me want to play baseball and inspired my love for the game more than Darin Erstad, and for that I’ll always love #17.