Milton, a left-handed pitcher who played at Maryland from 1994-96, was an American League All-Star for the Minnesota Twins in 2001 and won 89 games in his 11-year major-league career. A native of State College, Pa., he also pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers.
A first-round pick of the New York Yankees in the 1996 amateur draft, Milton made his Major League debut at age 22 for the Twins. In his career, Milton started 270 games, pitched more than 1,500 innings and faced nearly 7,000 batters, giving him a wealth of experience at the highest level of baseball.
“Eric is just a tremendous resource of baseball knowledge,” said Bakich. “He loves the game, and for our players to have somebody who has been in their shoes, gone to the same school, been through the same classes and done the same things, he is where they all want to be.
“He made it to that level. He’s a tremendous example for all our players to strive to get where he’s been. His experience is going to help our players tremendously and his baseball knowledge is unparalleled.”
Milton retired from the game in 2009, which coincided with Bakich’s arrival as head coach at Maryland, and the two developed a friendship over the last two years.
“When I took the job it was a priority to re-establish relationships with former players and Eric was a guy I hit it off with right away,” Bakich said. “The more I have spent time with him and his family over the last year, the more I knew I wanted to have him on the staff if the opportunity ever presented itself. Eric is just a tremendous resource of baseball knowledge.”
Milton, who has conducted lessons with area youth in the last two years, saw an opportunity to become more involved in player development while helping the University he attended.
“I still want to be involved in baseball and what better avenue than here, where I played, trying to get these kids prepared for professional baseball,” said Milton.
Milton will serve as the program’s volunteer assistant, working primarily with catchers, though he will assist in all facets of coaching.
“A guy who has that much experience and played at the highest level of baseball, you certainly don’t want to pigeon-hole into just one area when his knowledge base expands to all areas,” said Bakich.
Indeed, Milton brings vast experience and knowledge of the game to the coaching staff. From 1999-2001, he averaged 160 strikeouts per season, ranking among the top 11 in the American League each year. He was an All-Star in 2001 when he went 15-7 with a 4.32 ERA and a career-high 220 2/3 innings pitched.
Milton led Phillies with a 14-6 record in 2004, when he topped the 200-inning mark for the fourth time in his career. He went on to pitch for the Reds for three seasons and finished his career with the Dodgers in 2009.
“I sat in a dugout for over 2,000 Major League baseball games in my career,” said Milton. “You learn a little bit about baseball that way. I think I can add a lot to this program. Erik used the ‘pigeon-hole’ word – I have more knowledge than just pitching; it’s all aspects of the game and I think I can add that to this program.”