Niagara Falls native signs with Welland Jackfish
By Bernd Franke
COVID-19 is preventing Eric Marriott from taking the next step in his baseball career for the second year in a row.
Last season would have been the 25-year-old Niagara Falls native’s first as head coach of the Moose Jaw Miller Express, but the Western Canadian Baseball League did not see action in 2020 due to the pandemic.
While the wood-bat collegiate league is playing this year, all of five Saskatchewan teams, including the Express, opted to sit out the year after the league, citing the ongoing closure of the Canada-U.S. border, decided against including imports.
The six Alberta-based teams, many connected to baseball academies in Canada, plan to play this year.
Marriott, who spent two years at Erie Community College in western New York before attending Mitchell College in New London, Conn., on an academic scholarship, had been looking forward to returning to Moose Jaw, where he spent two seasons patrolling the outfield.
“I would have been out there. We had a pretty good team,” the A.N. Myer Secondary School graduate said in an interview from Thorold. “We had about 10 D1 guys and a lot of D2 guys and some elite juco (junior college) guys.
“We were going to compete for a WCBL title but most of my guys are American and I couldn’t get him there.”
Marriott had a few offers to coach south of the border before signing with the Welland Jackfish of the Intercounty Baseball League.
“They offered me a spot on what they’re building. When someone gives you a chance to put a jersey on your back, it’s tough to say no,” he said. “I loved everything that they were preaching.
“I talked to coach (Brian) Essery and he was phenomenal.”
The 6-foot, 190-pound Marriott would not have been able to continue as a player had the Express opted to play this season.
“You have to be going into your first year of university or junior college or just have finished your senior season.”
Marriott, who graduated in 2019, still feels he some gas left in the tank.
“I’m in good shape and I stay in shape. I work out every day, I lift every day,” he said. “I believe that I can still play, just like I did a couple of years back, and I think I can bring a lot to the Jackfish.
“I think my speed, my ability to play good defence and my quick bat. I don’t think I lost much in the last little bit.”
His natural position is centre field. He was a two-time Golden Glove winner in Moose Jaw.
“I’ll play any position for the Jackfish,” Marriott said. “Wherever the team needs me to play, I’m willing to do whatever it takes.
“I just want to compete for a championship.”
Jackfish manager Brian Essery can’t wait to list Marriott’s name in the batting order.
“He will give us good defence in the outfield, as well he’s a solid contributor at the plate.
“We expect big things from Eric as we chase a championship in 2021.”
In 47 games in his last season in Moose Jaw, Marriott hit three doubles, drove in 17 runs and stole 21 bases.
Marriott probably would have played in the IBL this year, even if the league didn’t have a franchise in Niagara.
“I think that is something that might have been discussed. All my options we’re looked at, but, not to be cliché, it fits like a glove with Welland.”
Marriott is disappointed that his coaching career has been placed on hold.
“It sucks but everything happens for a reason,” he said. “ For whatever reason, I ended up with the Jackfish and I think it’s going to help my baseball career moving forward.”
The Express have already told Marriott they want back has head coach in 2022.
“They’re a great organization,” he said. “They helped me become the man I am today.”