Matt Erickson has had a love affair with Appleton West ever since he can remember.
“I always wanted to be a Terror and I’m quite sure I bled orange and blue before bleeding green and gold,” said Erickson.
That love affair transformed into a stellar high school athletic career and eventual path to major league baseball, for which Erickson will be honored Friday prior to the Terrors’ Fox Valley Association basketball game with Oshkosh West.
“What it is we’re having framed jerseys on display of West High School athletes who achieved the highest level of professional sports,” said West principal Greg Hartjes. “Eventually there will be five or six jerseys (displayed near the basketball concession stand). I’m not sure if we’re going to call it the Wall of Fame, or whatever.”
Stu Locklin, an outfielder for the Cleveland Indians from 1955 to ’56, was the first to be honored last season.
Erickson was called up to the big leagues in July of 2004 by the Milwaukee Brewers, for whom he played four games and collected his lone major-league hit, off future hall-of-famer Greg Maddux. Now, his Brewers’ jersey will hang alongside Locklin’s Indians’ jersey.
Erickson said some of his fondest memories were going with his dad, Bruce, to attend West sporting events.
“Those were some of my most enjoyable moments as a child,” said Erickson, now the manager of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. “Going to Goodland Field to watch Terror (baseball) games and on Saturday afternoons going to Einstein (Junior High) for football games. There used to be a Mr. Donut shop (near Einstein) and I’d go there with my dad and get a cherry cake doughnut and a chocolate milk and go over to the game. And then Friday night basketball games in the old Seims Gym. As a youngster, that’s what I looked forward to throughout the whole week.
“Having this ceremony brings back to life some of those memories for me.”
The Timber Rattlers also announced this week that April 8, Opening Day at Fox Cities Stadium, will feature a Matt Erickson Bobblehead giveaway, featuring Erickson and last year’s Midwest League championship trophy.
“I showed my son (Maddox) the picture and he said ‘That’s not you, dad. It looks like Barack Obama,’ ” said Erickson. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever be honored with a bobblehead. It’s been pretty comical. I’ve gotten a lot of texts and emails — quite a few sarcastic comments. My wife (Julie) is killing me with it.
“But it’s a nice symbol. They’ve got the trophy on there. Looking back over time, it will be a nice symbol of that championship season.”
— Mike Woods: 920-993-1000, ext. 232, or email@example.com; On Twitter @PCMikeW