Written by Craig Hemingway
“We will be back.” After losing the Western Canadian Baseball League championship in three games to the Okotoks Dawgs last season, Eric Marriott is confident the Moose Jaw Miller Express can return to league final this year.
Marriott, 27, is in his 2nd season managing the Miller Express (he was hired in 2021 but the Millers lost the 2021 and 2022 seasons to the pandemic) and is preparing to manage the Eastern Division squad at the WCBL All-Star game in Okotoks July 15.
The Miller Express arrive at all-star weekend with a 26-11 record, good for 1st place in the WCBL East division, and the former gold glove-winning Miller Express centerfielder was kind enough to take a few minutes away from All-Star game preparations to answer a few questions about his (now six years) time in Moose Jaw as a player and manager, some favourite baseball memories and being in the same age bracket as most of his players.
What do you recall about the first time you were approached to come to Moose Jaw to play for the Miller Express?
Former head coach Michael Hunt gave me a call while I was in class and sold me on the program he was building. I was more than excited to join his team.
What, if anything, did you know about Moose Jaw when you got that call?
I didn’t know a thing about Moose Jaw. To be honest I had never heard of the city before!
You were hired as Miller Express Manager at the age of 23 (although pandemic delayed you getting on the field until last season) – that’s very young for a baseball manager. At what point in your baseball life did the idea of managing get lodged in your brain?
I always knew I wanted to stay involved with baseball. As a player I was always thinking one step ahead and knew I wanted to be a manager one day.
Did you have a mentor that suggested you had the right qualities for managing, or did you notice some of those qualities in yourself?
I always have enjoyed breaking down baseball games before plays happen. Coach Hunt and (Miller Express General Manager) Cory Olafson have instilled confidence in me since day one with the organization.
One would assume that your age allows you to relate to the players more easily than someone 20/30 years older – are there any challenges being so close in age to the players
Initially, it is probably a shock to some of the players how young I and my staff are in the dugout. That being said, I’m confident the trust and confidence in us from the players was earned rather quickly because of how we handle things here in Moose Jaw.
Your hometown (Niagara Falls) is one of Canada’s most famous tourist spots. Moose Jaw is also a tourist destination, though for different reasons. Are there any other similarities between the two places?
I am proudly from Niagara Falls. When I am not in MJ, Niagara is my home and there’s always something to do. I would say it’s much more fast-paced compared to Moose Jaw.
How would you describe your time living in Moose Jaw?
This is my 6th year spending time in Moose Jaw. Safe to say I’ve fallen in love with the city and want nothing more to bring a championship back (here).
How do you think your former teammates would describe you?
I was a vocal player, someone who brought the energy both on and off the field.
How would your current players describe you?
I’m a players’ coach who allows my guys to play their game and be themselves. That being said, between the lines I always demand the most out of them.
What was the first time that you remember a team you managed executing something on the field that you had made a special point of practicing?
Last summer we executed a full bunt defence and got an important out at 3rd base in a big moment. It’s something we practiced often but didn’t have many opportunities to execute in a game.
Who is the most famous baseball player you’ve played with or against?
My cousin, former Cleveland Indian Nick Weglarz. (He had a) big time impact on my baseball career. Real special human being.
Last year, and now this year, are two of the most successful seasons in MJ Miller Express history. Why do you think that’s the case?
It’s a new era in Moose Jaw. The organization took a shot on me as a player and after a few years of mediocrity I vowed to bring in the right staff, proper players to go along with a culture that will put the Miller Express back on the map.
What does it mean to you to be selected as an all-star manager?
It means the world to be selected as the East All Star manager. The game will be loaded with talent in front of a sold-out crowd and I look to represent the East with pride!
What single moment as a player do you play back in your head the most?
Conference tournament championship game, junior year. Game winning home run at Mitchell College.
What single moment as a manager do you play back in your head the most?
Game 3 of the WCBL finals. We will be back!
Please list your top 3 favourite:
Singers or bands: Future, Lil Baby, Alan Jackson
Comedy tv shows: Seinfeld, Friends, The O.CMovies of all time: Hardball, Miracle, Dirty Dancing
Things to do in Moose Jaw: Miller Express Baseball!