Damion Easley Relives Rubbing Elbows with Greatness
With his son playing at a local baseball camp, former big league player Damion Easley had the perfect opportunity to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for the first time.
“Playing so long,” Easley said Wednesday morning, “I’m surprised it took my 12-year-old son, Jayce, to bring me down here.”
A veteran of 17 big league seasons spent mostly with the California Angels and Detroit Tigers, Easley, who left the field following his 2008 campaign, enjoyed his greatest success as a power-hitting second baseman in the MotorCity in the late 1990s. Though his lone All-Star Game invite came in 1998, when he smacked 27 home runs and drove in 100, he finished his career with 1,386 hits, 163 homers, 114 stolen bases and a .253 batting average.
After a tour of the museum’s archives, Easley said, “I’m in awe. I’m a baseball traditionalist, diehard baseball fan, and just a fan of the game, and that was very impressive to see those artifacts and kinda relive my youth a little bit.”
Now 42 years old, the native of New York City moved at age 11 to California, where he was able to play baseball year-round.
“Early on baseball was my life,” Easley said. “As you grow and get older I have my wife and my kids and obviously they took over my heart. But I still love the game.
“My dad introduced me to the game at a very young age and I took it and ran with it. It’s still a passion of mine. I coach it and I can’t get enough of it. I’ve coach at the youth, high school and pro side now.”
Calling Glendale, AZ home, Easley is currently a coach with the San Diego Padres’ affiliate in the rookie Arizona League.
“I enjoy working with the young guys who don’t know what it takes yet. They think they do but they really don’t,” Easley said. “And I’m sure I was that way coming up, too. But I enjoy working with them and helping them along.”
Helping Easley along in his professional career was Hall of Famer Rod Carew, the young infielder’s first batting coach when he got to the big leagues. But he also played against many of the Hall of Famers elected recently, a fact that makes his trip to Cooperstown even more meaningful.
“It helps you appreciate some of the greatness that you’ve been around because when you’re playing you don’t have time to think about it,” he said. “You admire somebody for his talents but you’re out there trying to compete and trying to survive and you don’t have time to be in awe of somebody.
“Now that you’re away from it you can sit back, relive the moments, and think, ‘Man, this was really special to live a dream and rub elbows with greatness.’”
Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum