June 20, 2008
By John Philip Wyllie
With the conclusion of another school year the prep baseball season has ended, but that doesn’t mean the up and coming stars of tomorrow will have no place to play this summer. Traveling club leagues are just getting under way from San Ysidro to Fallbrook and from Imperial Beach to Alpine. We caught up with the San Diego Longball and the San Diego Gamers out of El Cajon when they met at Hilltop High for their game last weekend. It was part of the San Diego Elite Classic. Despite a 5-3 loss Gamers shortstop Eric Sapp, the team’s lone Hispanic star, played well and was upbeat about the club baseball experience.
“Playing now is a lot easier. I can work out on weekdays and I don’t have to worry about getting my homework done. I have learned a lot (playing club baseball). I’ve learned all my fundamentals. I used to get really (frustrated) when I messed up, but the most important thing that I’ve learned is to just forget it when I make an error and worry about the next play.”
The ever improving Sapp doesn’t “mess up” very often at shortstop.
“Eric is a great defensive player with good bat skills,” according to Gamers coach, Tom Brown. “He leads the infield through his playing ability and he does a real good job of handling the bat at the plate,” Brown added.
During the last school year Sapp had a similar role for the Vista High Panthers J.V. Team. A percentage rather than power hitter, he finished the season with an impressive batting average of about .500. Next year as a sophomore, he hopes to compete for a spot on the varsity squad. His first year of high school was a productive one academically as well. Sapp’s G.P. A. was a solid 3.3.
He gets his Hispanic heritage from his mother’s side. Both his now deceased grandfather and grandmother were born in Mexico. And while his family is now totally immersed in the American culture Sapp remains proud of his heritage. My grandparents always spoke in Spanish and I learned it and about the Mexican culture from them.
“My mom has taught me a little bit too. My Spanish is just all right, but I am proud of where my family has come from.”
Family is important to him and it has helped him with baseball as well.
“Growing up, my older and brother and dad were always there to help me. They both played baseball and they could see the mistakes I was making. If I ever had any questions they would answer them and they really learned how to work with me. They have helped me to improve.”
Sapp has ambitious plans for the future.
“In the fall I’ll be playing football, but right now I am just focusing on baseball. I want to (eventually) play college baseball, hopefully in Division I. We will see how it goes from there.”