Whatever happened to … Eric Ackerman

By on April 16, 2014
Eric Ackerman in his Lancaster Barnstormer days.

Eric Ackerman in his Lancaster Barnstormer days.

In this edition of “Whatever happened to?” we are featuring one the more successful pitchers to come out of the Denver-Ephrata area, Eric Ackerman.

Ackerman is a 1998 graduate of Cocalico and was a standout football and baseball player while playing for the Eagles.

As a football player, Ackerman was the starting quarterback both his junior and senior years.

“We won the section both years,” remembered Ackerman. “But we lost (in Districts) to Bishop McDevitt my junior year and then to Manheim Central my senior year.”

Ackerman won the Outstanding Football Player award for Section Three during his senior year.

But, as good as Ackerman was at football, he was better on the baseball diamond.

The lefty helped the Eagles to records of 14-5 and 15-4 his junior and senior years respectfully. For his efforts Ackerman was rewarded the Male Athlete of the Year by the Lancaster Newspapers in 1998.

After high school, Ackerman went to the University of Pittsburgh on a baseball scholarship where he played for the Panthers all four years.

“At Pitt I pitched most of the time, but as a junior I started 25 games in centerfield because of injuries,” said Ackerman.

For his efforts on the mound, Ackerman went 5-0 as a freshman and then 7-2 as a senior. “I haven’t looked at a press guide lately, but I used to be in the top 10 in career strikeouts and wins.”

Upon graduation in 2002, Ackerman was drafted by the Kansas City Royals and was sent to short season “A” ball with the team from Spokane, Washington of the Mid-West league.

“After five or six starts I was promoted to low “A” ball in Burlington, Iowa and the pitcher who replaced me in the starting rotation was (current Los Angeles Dodger star) Zach Greinke,” laughed Ackerman.

In 2003, Ackerman was the opening day pitcher for Burlington and led the team in wins that year by going 9-5. Ackerman remembers, “I could have easily had 18 wins but I had little run support.”

In 2004, Ackerman was promoted to high “A” in Wilmington, DE and was the Game Two starter for the season and midway through the year was put in the bullpen where he only allowed two or three runs the final 25-30 innings he pitched.

Ackerman toiled two more years in the minors and experienced what lots of players do when he was caught in a numbers game.

“I was 25-26 years old and should have gone to Double A ball, but they didn’t have room for me so I got released,” he said.

The team offered to try to find a place for Ackerman to play, but he decided to give the hometown Lancaster Barnstormers a try since he knew Tom Herr, who was the manager then.

“I got signed by the Barnstormers in 2006 and we won the championship that season and I kept playing for Lancaster until midway through the 2010 season when I signed with the York Revolution.”

Ackerman earned his second championship ring that season as a member of the Revolution.

“The 2006 championship was very special, playing for the hometown team, but as an individual the 2010 championship was more satisfying because I contributed more that season,” said Ackerman.

The memories that standout most for the lefty was in the division playoffs against the Somerset Patriots. “I was pitching out of the bullpen and usually only pitched an inning,” he said. “But that game I was called in for the eighth inning and got three quick outs, so the manager left me in for the ninth and I got three outs to save the game. In those days Somerset had a powerhouse team and to get six outs and a save was very special.”

After the 2010 season Ackerman hung up his spikes in favor of a hammer and a saw.

“I’ve always liked hands-on stuff and decided to go into the carpentry business and I now work for Heck Construction Company and I love it,” he said.

Ackerman, who was an assistant football coach at Ephrata the last two seasons, is now married to Liz and they have a 10-month old son Coen.

If you have an individual you would like to know, “Whatever happened to?,” send Tom Arnold an email at: marshalfm1@comcast.net

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