by Frank Hyde
February 7, 1950
Part 1 of 4
Swat Erickson Arose From Jamestown AC Nine To Fame in Baseball's Big Show
"I could try," the tall one answered deliberately.
Those few words launched Eric George Erickson on a professional baseball career that spanned more than a decade – a career that stirred diamond dust from Washington in the East to San Francisco in the West, Dallas in the South and Toronto in the North.
The big fellow's spikes dented thousands of pitching rubbers and his whip-like right arm baffled some of the game's greatest stickers before the end came one cold windswept day at Toronto when an injured back failed to respond.
Came Along Too Early
Today "Swat" Erickson lives with his memories in his comfortable home on Mattson Road, and they are pleasant ones.
"Baseball was pretty good to me, but I'd like to have come along 20 years later in these days of high salaries and modern major league advantages," Swat, who is no longer the 6-3, 200-pounder of old, but still a powerful figure of a man, offered.
Swat was born in Johnsonburg, Pa. (sic). His parents moved to Jamestown when he was 14. Dad Erickson took a job at the Atlas Furniture Co. and Swat, who picked up his nickname from his ability to powder the ball when he was a kid, later was employed at the same plant.
First the Jamestown AC nine attracted the lanky youth, whose slingshot arm and easy delivery came so naturally that he demanded attention from the outset. In 1914 he moved up to LeRow's Semi-Pros, who were playing almost every day at Celoron. LeRow had tossed some good baseball talent together including such local stalwarts at Billy Webb, Emil Jacobson and King Brady.
Bedient in Big Time Then
Probably the bullet-armed kid vaguely dreamed of emulating another man who was bringing fame to the area – Hugh Bedient, the illustrious Boston Red Sox hurler who beat Christy Matthewson in that memorable duel of the 1912 series, the same year Swat was getting his spikes under him with Len Carlson's old AC outfit.
LeRow shelled out $3 per game to lure Erickson into the fold.
"That was a lot of money in those days and I looked ahead to the time when I could be a regular and take down the usual $60 per month plus board," Swat recalled.
But the coming of Curtis and the Dallas contract sent the kid south where he reported to Manager Otto Jordan in the Texas League city.
"I was pretty scared," Swat carried on. "But one day a fellow named Killerman, an old-timer who played shortstop, came over and said, "They'll be moving you on up pretty soon."
Killerman was quite a forecaster if not a great player. Swat soon found himself on his way to New York and John McGraw's hard-bitten Giants.
The Giants went to Marlin, Texas for spring training in 1915 and it was there the first of two bad breaks caught up with the Jamestown Swede.
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