March 31, 2014
By Sean Brennan
Special to BIGEAST.com
In our first installment of “Touching Base…,” we chat up Creighton’s elite senior center fielder Mike Gerber. We find out why he spurned Yankees’ pinstripes for Bluejays’, well, blue, why the No. 13 will never be unlucky for him, how cool it is to play his home games in College Baseball’s Mecca and which trivia question he is the answer to.
BIGEAST.com: Mike, you were drafted in 40th round by the Yankees out of high school. Why did you decide not to sign and instead choose to go to Creighton?
GERBER: “Obviously every baseball player’s dream is to play pro ball but I was only 17 years old and I felt like I could mature a lot more in college. I could get my game better in college so I just thought the time wasn’t right. I ended up picking Creighton because I thought it was the best fit for me baseball-wise and because it was a great school academically. And it’s only a six or seven-hour car ride from home (Naperville, Illinois) for me so everything just kind of fell into place and that’s why I made my decision to go to Creighton.”
BIGEAST.com: Was it a tough decision to make?
GERBER: “Any 17-year old who gets drafted by the Yankees, that’s a pretty big deal, a big honor and you kind of want to go pursue that. But after thinking about it with my family a little bit, I took a few days and went on my official visit to Creighton and that’s kind of how I made my decision.”
BIGEAST.com: I see you wear the No. 13. A lot of baseball players are superstitious and usually shy away from that number. Is there any significance behind that?
GERBER: “Actually my dad wore No. 13 and I wore No. 13 all throughout high school and my dad passed away while I was in high school so it’s just something that I do for him.”
Creighton left the Missouri Valley Conference and moved to the BIG EAST this season. Do you like the move and are you looking forward to the conference season?
GERBER: “A lot of the seniors on the team that have played in The Valley for three years are kind of excited that we get to play some new teams, see some new faces and play in some new places that we haven’t been to. Personally I have never been to New York or Philadelphia and places like that. So it’s exciting. We don’t know a whole lot about the competition because we were in the other conference for the last three years but I think everyone is excited to get started with it.”
BIGEAST.com: Every ballplayer is in love with their offensive numbers but you have put up some remarkable defensive numbers in your career. You’ve played in 165 career games with just two errors. How much do you work on defense and how much pride do you take in it?
GERBER: “I take a lot of pride in my defense. It’s something that we take very seriously here at Creighton. We focus a lot on defense in practice. It’s something that I enjoy doing and getting out on the field and working on.”
BIGEAST.com: Last season you lost a big chunk of time after you had to have your appendix removed. Was it frustrating being sidelined all that time?
GERBER: “It was extremely frustrating but it was something that I couldn’t control. I just woke up one morning with a pain in my stomach and the next thing I knew I was in the hospital for the next three days getting it taken out. It did come at an unfortunate time, in the second half of the season when we kind of want to get things going as a team. Looking back on it, yeah, it was frustrating.”
BIGEAST.com: Despite missing about a month of last year, you were still chosen BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year. What did you think of that?
GERBER: “That was a pretty big honor and a cool thing to have on my resume. But nobody has really played any conference games yet and there are a lot of guys trying to prove themselves. It was a great honor being picked for the Preseason Player of the Year but I know I still have to go out and show it this year.”
BIGEAST.com: How cool is it to play your home games in the very stadium every college player in the country dreams of playing in?
GERBER: “It’s a great stadium. It’s a big attraction in the city of Omaha and fans want to come to a great stadium to watch a great team play. It’s also something that helped persuade me to come to Creighton, knowing that we were going to get to play on this field. It’s been a lot of fun the past three years.”
BIGEAST.com: You are the first player to log a home run and RBI in this stadium. That kind of makes you the answer to a trivia question.
GERBER: “It was pretty cool. I’m not sure who we were playing but it was a pretty exciting feeling after I hit it. (Mike hit his historic homer on April 22, 2011 in the fourth inning of a 5-4, 10-inning victory over Southern Illinois).”
BIGEAST.com: The Bluejays are off to a pretty solid start so far. But are you guys itching to get into conference play?
GERBER: “Yeah, we’ve got a couple of challenging weekends these next few weeks before we get there but everyone is excited to get into conference play. But we’re just trying to focus on each game now as it comes. Take every game as it comes, don’t try and look too far ahead in the future. But I think our guys are getting excited about conference play.”
BIGEAST.com: You have never been to New York but you play St. John’s in New York in May. How much are you looking forward to that?
GERBER: “That’s going to be a lot of fun. I got some family back on the East Coast and they’ll be able to make it to the game which will be nice. I’m not sure how much free time we’ll have to check things out, but it will be a cool experience.”
BIGEAST.com: Your younger brother, David, a freshman pitcher, is with team this year. How much fun is it having him around… and how often do you make him carry your bags?
GERBER: “(Laughs) He’s got his own bags to carry and a few baseball bags so I don’t think he’ll be carrying any of mine. But it’s been great. There are not a lot of people that are able to say at the Division I level that they played with their brother. It’s something that, we might not realize it now, but we’ll look back when we’re older and see how really cool it was. But it’s been a great experience so far.”
BIGEAST.com: Obviously your goal is to play Major League Baseball. But did you have a favorite player that you rooted for growing up or that you model yourself after?
GERBER: “I lived in St. Louis for about eight years so I usually saw the Cardinals games. And when I was younger and going to games the center fielder at the time was Jim Edmonds. I always tried to play like him defensively so he was my favorite player.”
BIGEAST.com: How much do you think about Baseball’s Amateur Draft coming up in June?
GERBER: “I’ve spoken with a few people but, as of right now, everything is up in the air. We still have a couple of months of the season left to play with the guys so I don’t want to look too far ahead but it is exciting and it is something to think about, what could possibly happen. But we’ll just have to wait and see.”