06/22/2009 11:46 AM -
Some people know what they want to do when they grow up at an early age. Others have little or no direction; they simply go with the flow and see where life takes them. Either way, there are certain experiences that help determine the paths of their lives and lead them to become who they are. For Aharon Eggleston, there are many factors that have led him to where he is today, and each has helped him become not only a standout ballplayer but also a standout person.
Eggleston grew up in Las Vegas where he attended Valley High School. Even though both his parents played semi-professional softball, he didn't play on the school baseball team until his sophomore year. Up to that point, the only baseball he participated in was in Phys Ed.
"I was just one of those PE all-star guys," he said. "I didn't really think about playing until my PE coach suggested I try."
After agreeing to give organized baseball a shot, the talent his Phys Ed coach saw in class transferred into success on the field. Following graduation, Eggleston played for Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ where he was a two-time, First-Team All-Conference player. He then moved on to Southern Arkansas University where he earned both First Team All-South Central and All-Gulf South Conference player honors twice.
Eggleston had high hopes of being drafted after such an outstanding college career, but for some reason, was overlooked by Major League teams. This led him to the Northern League.
The outfielder started his professional career with Edmonton in 2005, batting .330 and recording a 17 game on-base streak in the middle of the season. After a strong first season, Eggleston had high hopes for 2006, but a torn hamstring put him on the inactive list for a month and made it difficult for him to have the same production as the previous year.
Eggleston regained his health in 2007 and has been with the T-Bones since February of that year. He finished the last two seasons hitting over .320 and was a member of the Northern League All-Star team both years. With so much success, it would be easy for Eggleston to focus on all his individual accomplishments, but that's just not what's important to him. He's focused on defending the T-Bones' 2008 Northern League Championship.
"Of course you want to repeat as champs," he said. "I'd like more stolen bases and to lead the league in hits again, but this year as leadoff, if I get on base for the team and set them up, we can win."
Teammate Damian Rolls agrees.
"When he gets on as much as he does, it makes hitting that much more fun," Rolls said. "He's an enormous factor on and off the field."
Rolls has been friends with Eggleston since they met in Florida years ago. In fact, Rolls said the center fielder played a huge role in getting him to play for the T-Bones this season. Rolls joked about their laid-back friendship but also could not stop complimenting Eggleston's personality. He's amazed how well Eggleston handles his role and believes his character helps make him an even better ballplayer.
"You don't see this a lot. It's the same personality when he's doing bad and doing good," Rolls said. "He could go 0-for-four, 0-for-five and still act the same as when he's four-for-four or five-for-five."
Eggleston thinks it's important to stay positive and be a good role model. He said that like most ballplayers, he would love a shot in the majors, but for now, he likes it here and looks forward to whatever his future in baseball may be.
"You can only play so long, but I don't have my own family, so I'm going to keep playing until I can't," he said. "You like the fans, kids look up to you, ask for autographs. It's just a lot of fun."
Part of the fun comes from the camaraderie of being part of a team. He said even though there are new guys every year, after they meet and everyone gets to know each other, they can all have fun and joke around. Eggleston knows not to take himself too seriously - he's just one of those guys who's learned to go with the flow and enjoy life as it comes.
"You gotta have fun with what you're doing," he said. "Always just have to keep smiling."