Born: May 18, 1967
Town: New Brunswick, New Jersey
Eric Orlando Young was born in New Brunswick May 18, 1967. Strong and fast with great hand-eye coordination—but standing just 5–9—Eric gravitated to baseball, where he was a standout at New Brunswick High School in the mid-1980s. He was also an outstanding running back for the Zebras’ football team.
Eric was recruited by Rutgers baseball coach Fred Hill. He joined the Scarlet Knights in time to help them win the Atlantic 10 championship in 1986 as a freshman, and earn a berth in the College World Series. Rutgers finished first in the A-10 in each of Eric’s four varsity seasons, including the first two 30-win seasons in school history, in 1987 and 1988. Eric also played football for the Scarlet Knights.
Eric’s toughness and durability were unquestioned. However, his size limited his appeal in the 1989 baseball draft. The Dodgers liked his speed and grabbed him in the 43rd round. For the next four seasons he tortured minor league catchers with his base-stealing, racking up back-to-back 70-steal campaigns in 1990 and 1991. Eric was called up to the big leagues in July of 1992 and showed enough to be plucked off LA’s roster by the newly formed Colorado Rockies in the expansion draft.
Eric won the starting second base job for the Rockies in 1993 and became one of baseball’s premier base stealers. He led the NL with 53 in 1996, and led all second basemen with a .324 average. He also played in the All-Star Game that summer.
The Dodgers reacquired Eric in a straight-up trade for phenom Pedro Astacio during the 1997 season. Eric stole 100 bases for LA over the next 2 ½ seasons. In his mid-30s, Eric began to slow down, and injuries started nagging him. He bounced from the Dodgers to the Cubs to the Brewers to the Giants to the Rangers and finally to the Padres in 2005. At each stop, he played hard, stole bases and did whatever else the team needed.
Eric finished with a .283 lifetime average and 465 stolen bases in 15 seasons. In two postseason series he batted a cumulative .409 and finished in the Top 10 in steals 10 times. He also led the league in triples in 1995.
By the time he retired from baseball in 2006, his son, Eric Jr., was working his way toward the majors with an almost identical skill set. He made his big-league debut in 2009 with the Rockies. Eric stayed in baseball as an analyst with ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and also coached din the Astros system. In 2011, he was back on the major league diamond as the first base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.