(WFRV) – Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson has plenty of experience in baseball. From high school to the pros, but nothing has compared to this spring.
“First time in 29 years I’ve actually been in the state of Wisconsin and back home since I left high school, went to the University of Arkansas, played professional baseball, and with coaching I’ve always been in spring training,” said Matt Erickson.
Like many others in professional baseball, Erickson was at spring training with the Brewers organization preparing for the new season in March. Then he, along with with everyone else, was told to pack up and head home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Every year everybody’s excited obviously there’s a lot of high optimism in the air. People are trying to win jobs, and now a full year possibly, and it looks like the minor league season isn’t going to happen. I’m still cautiously optimistic, but we’ll see,” said Erickson.
Like every other professional sport, minor league baseball is in a holding pattern. For teams like the Timber Rattlers, the Brewers’ single-A affiliate in Grand Chute, the threat of losing an entire season is very real as June approaches and games remain postponed.
The window of opportunity for minor league players is a short one. Losing an entire season would hurt those with big league dreams as an opportunity to get better on the field, and make a name for themselves.
: “There’s no substitute for competition, and people learn on the job in a competitive environment. When you take that away it’s hard to replace that. When you’re talking about the window that some of these young kids have it’s very short,” said Erickson.
In the meantime Erickson must wait for the next opportunity to get on the field as a coach. There is a silver lining, though. For a coach that spends much of his summer at the stadium, and on the road, it’s an opportunity to spend more time at home.
“We wake up in the morning, I’m making breakfast, and all of the sudden about nine o’clock I become a first grade teacher. Later in the morning I try to tackle some fifth grade math. An enjoyable time for sure with my kids. Time that I really haven’t been able to spend during this time with so much time committed to the ballpark,” said Erickson.