Today is the birthday of baseball great, Darin Erstad of Jamestown. He was the #1 overall pick in the Junior Amateur Draft in 1995, when he was chosen to join the Anaheim Angels.
As a youth, Erstad excelled in almost every team sport offered in Jamestown. In high school, he was All-Conference & All-State for football, hockey & track. He was named Mr. Hockey, and was the 1992 North Dakota Associated Press Athlete of the Year.
At the University of Nebraska, Erstad played both football and baseball. In 1993, he made the Academic All-Big 8 Team; and in 1994, he was 1st Team All-Big 8.
In 1995, before getting drafted, he was a First-Team All-American and named Player of the Year by College Sports Magazine. He played in 176 collegiate baseball games, finishing with a 356 batting average. He was also the punter & kicker for Nebraska’s national champion football team.
Darin spent his first year with the Angels on a farm team at Lake Elsinore, and the following year he was voted best arm in the Pacific Coast League and moved up to the Big Show – the major leagues.
A career highlight was the 2002 World Series as the Angels beat the San Francisco Giants. Darin caught the fly ball that ended the seventh game, sealing the championship.
After retiring from professional baseball, Erstad returned to his alma mater, where he served as the Nebraska Cornhuskers head baseball coach from 2012 to 2019.
Darin remains connected to his home town. During his first year in the big leagues, he donated $25,000 to Jamestown and the Special Olympics. When he signed a new deal with the Angels three years later, $200,000 from his salary went toward developing Little League fields in North Dakota and Southern California. And in May of this year (2021), representatives from the University of Jamestown and Jamestown Public Schools announced that the Erstads donated to renovate the track and football field at the University and to provide a turf practice field at the High School. In recognition of his support, the practice field will be named Erstad Field.
Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm