Captain’s Corner: Eric Pappas ’22

Chisang Moon

(Photo courtesy of Sports Information.)




Providence, R.I.




Economics and History

When did you start playing baseball?

I started playing when I was probably three years old with my older brother. I obviously wasn’t serious. But, I got to play [on a team] when I was really, really young— I would say I probably started around six or seven.

How did you become an infielder?

It’s kind of interesting. So, a lot of pitchers are specialized at a pretty young age. I was pretty good at pitching when I was young, so I started as a pitcher. As everyone grew up, I think they realized that based on my size and maybe strength, pitching really wasn’t for me. So, [around] sophomore year in high school, I had to figure out a new spot. And I’d always played infield for less serious teams. Sophomore year and junior year in high school, I started to seriously practice at shortstop in the infield, and I just learned on the fly. I didn’t really have any professional or serious coaching, but I just watched my friends and picked it up there.

Are there any benefits or challenges associated with playing infield?

I would say the benefit is that you’re always involved in the game in some sort. Rarely are you sitting around and doing nothing because the ball is almost always going to find its way to you at some point in the game, and there’s a lot of communication that goes on. If there are base runners on, you have to constantly be watching them, working with the pitcher to make sure that they’re not taking advantage and stealing. It’s really awesome [and] engaging. I would say the challenge is that there’s a lot of action, and there’s really little room for error. The expectation is that you’re perfect. No human is perfect, so when you mess up, it can be pretty bad sometimes. The challenge is trying to be as perfect as possible to never make a mistake. Also, the shortstop does have to captain the infield. I have to really make sure that everyone is in the right spot infield and [whether] everyone is aware of the kind of hitter that’s hitting. If the coach wants to relay a specific play, that’s on me to relay [it] to the rest of the infield. So I would say that’s the hardest part for me. Instead of just being the best player, you have to be more of a leader.

Do you have a favorite drill or type of practice?

When we scrimmage each other, I think that’s really fun, because I think it’s important to take ground balls, do batting practice, [and] understand where to go in certain situations. When we compete in practice, I think that’s where you learn to have the most fun, just competing against your friends. Even if you don’t do well, it’s fun to talk trash to your friends.

What are some of your favorite team traditions?

Like the MLB [Major League Baseball], after the [pregame] practice, after each player is done with their drill, they will come in and line up. And so the whole team will line up until the last guys are done getting their ground balls or fly balls. At the very end, the entire team is lined up, and then a few guys [come] running down just giving guys high fives. So it’s always a pretty electric feeling. You and all your friends are getting fired up. I love that part about the pregame.

What are some fun pregame routines or superstitions that you have?

I have a really weird thing that I do. I have this special lucky arm sleeve, a horrible, tattered, barely white cloth that goes on my arm. But if I have a bad game, I won’t wear it the next game. And then if that [game also] doesn’t go well, then I’ll put it back on. So, every time I do well, I like to keep going with whether I have the arm sleeve or I don’t have the arm sleeve. It’s also just a way for me to be in an “OK, I changed something” mindset. I would [also] listen to music before the game, really zoning in. And it’s like everyone’s own form of meditation. I definitely have to be [listening to] my headphones for at least 20 minutes before the game.

Are there any unwritten rules in baseball that you like?

As an infielder, there is a big one: When you’re going to turn a double play for the runner, the old-fashioned way was to “break it up.” Slide into the infielder, cleat him if necessary, break his leg, do whatever you have to break that double play up. But an unwritten rule that not a lot of people follow is to not cleat or try to hit the infielder. It’s one that I really like as an infielder. Of course, I would never cleat an infielder. You can end someone’s season by doing that. Another one is mercy ruling, if you are winning like 15 to zero. You’re not going to steal bases, bunt, or do things that you would do in a very close game. It kind of just makes sense.

What will you miss most about playing baseball at Williams?

I think the first thing is that I’ve played [baseball] my whole life. I’ve played it since I was three or four with my brother. It’s definitely going to be a really big life adjustment. I personally get a lot of flow out of it. [Iget] a lot of exercise, obviously, and a lot of enjoyment. So it’s going to be a weird life adjustment. I would say the second part is all the friends I’ve made. I’ve played in so many teams growing up. I didn’t necessarily always have a big friend group growing up, but I had teams. So I’ve made so many friends from baseball, even in college too. So that team and friendship aspect is going to be missed. And competing — I think there’s nothing more satisfying than winning, grinding for something for a whole season, making playoffs, or getting a clutch base hit. And then the key situations are some of the best moments of my life. We made the playoffs in 2019. [It was] a crazy game against Wesleyan, and we ended up winning with a home run. I remember running towards the pitcher and doing a dogpile on the pitcher’s mound. Literally, probably the best feeling I ever had in my life. It’s not to say that I’ll never feel awesome like that again, but there’s something special about sharing that with a team.