Jamestown baseball player continues ‘chasing the dream’In the last year Erik Church has been all over the world, played with three pro teams and gotten a nasty case of shingles. But after it all, he’s doing what he really wants to do: play baseball. After a short stint last summer with the Yuma Scorpions of the Golden League, Church ventured off to Australia to play during the winter.
In the last year Erik Church has been all over the world, played with three pro teams and gotten a nasty case of shingles.
But after it all, he’s doing what he really wants to do: play baseball.
After a short stint last summer with the Yuma Scorpions of the Golden League, Church ventured off to Australia to play during the winter.
While in Australia, he decided to take a vacation to Indonesia, but shortly after began to get quite sick. It became so bad in fact, that he was forced to miss spring training with a team he had signed with previously — the River City Rascals of the Frontier League — and was bedridden back home in Federal Way, Wash.
The illness left him with severe nerve pain, a nasty rash and he lost a substantial amount of weight.
“I couldn’t do anything,” he said. “It was pretty much a situation where I laid on the couch for two weeks and suffered.”
The constant stress of traveling from Australia to Indonesia back to Australia and then flying to Los Angeles is what he believes brought on the condition, although the experience — minus the debilitating illness — was worth it, he said.
“It was unique both in terms of baseball and just the overall experience,” said the former JC centerfielder, who is the seventh former Jimmie to play professionally. “There’s a big difference in Australia in terms of it’s almost like basketball. There’s a lot of trash talking that’d you never see in America. We’d consider it bush league here, but there, it’s OK.”
He played well enough to hook on with the River City Rascals, based in St. Louis, but shortly before he was to head out for spring training, he got sick.
“It was frustrating. Spring training is starting, and I’m stuck at home on the couch,” he said. “I finally started feeling better, and some of my friends talked me into coming back to Jamestown, get back in shape and at least play for the (Jamestown) Elks this summer.”
He did exactly that, but before he could get his first taste of amateur ball, he got a call from the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier League. Just 20 hours later he was on a plane to St. Louis, where he is off to a slow start (0-for-5), but does have an RBI.
“I’m so fortunate to have so many good friends and coaches in Jamestown that were willing to do anything for me,” said Church, who earned All-American honors in 2010 for the Jimmies. “Everyone welcomed me back like I was one of their own.
“I’ve kind of been around now a little, but the people of Jamestown are like no other I’ve seen in my life.”
Jamestown College head baseball coach Tom Hager says everyone is pulling for the former Jimmie.
“He is a very, very special individual, both on and off the field,” Hager said. “He’s had an interesting career path to get to this point, to say the least, but to get to where he is, you have to be able to work extremely hard and grind it out, and that’s Erik Church.”
After the experiences of the last year, he feels more ready for his latest opportunity.
“I feel a lot more prepared. Even though I don’t have a lot of experience, I have more confidence and I know what to expect,” he said. “On (Thursday) I was watching the North Dakota state tournament, enjoying being on the other side and being a fan. … And a few hours later I get another chance to get back on the field.
“No matter what happens, I’m thankful for the opportunity to get back out there and chase the dream.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org