By: Daniel Wilkins
Photo Via Joey Erace Instagram (@joeybaseball12)
On March 19, 2019, I had the honorable opportunity to conduct an interview with Joey Erace, also known as “Joey Baseball”. If you don’t know who Joey Baseball is, you’ve been missing out. Erace is one of the greatest youth baseball players in the country, with electric speed, incredible contact, and near-immaculate fielding.
Joey is a three-time medalist at the USA Futures events, winning the gold medal twice, and the silver prize once. He is an alumni of USA NTIS (National Team Identification Series), and currently plays for the New Jersey Select baseball club. However, what is most notable about Erace is that he has been featured on the cover of TIME Magazine, one of the most prestigious magazines in the world. We discuss that, along with a few other topics, during this interview.
You have a lot of bats in your collection, and all of them are good for different things. Which one is your favorite to use in games, in practice, or in general?
Joey: I’d say that the green Marucci bats that I have, those are my favorites. I was in Texas one time, for a tournament, and a lot of the kids were using that bat and doing really well. I decided to try out that bat and I hit incredibly. I started using that bat more and more and now it’s my favorite to use.
How about gloves? Which one is the best for you to use?
Joey: There’s a Nokona glove that I really like. I got the glove for Christmas, and the glove became a pancake, and I almost never dropped a ball with it. I also got another Nokona glove for my birthday, and that’s working out great as well.
What was your first reaction when you were told that you’d be featured on the cover of TIME Magazine, one of the most popular magazines in the world?
Joey: I didn’t believe it, at first. We had to wait until 12 in the morning to find out if I made it, because it was either me or a hurricane. So we had to wait until then, and then my Dad told me all about what happened in the morning and I was in shock.
When was your first exposure to baseball where you started to enjoy the sport?
Joey: I had a little bat & ball toy at around 2 years old, and I loved playing with it. At around 5, I started hitting wiffle-balls at the fields with my dad. It just stuck after that.
Your favorite player is Jose Altuve. The title of the No Days Off episode says “Next Jose Altuve?”. Do you think that that is a fair comparison for you?
Joey: Yeah, I do think that it’s a fair comparison. I was actually cut from a team when doing tryouts when I was younger, and I came back a little while later and I blew it out of the water ther. They ended up keeping me on the team because I did my best and I maxed out my effort.
Do you have a favorite MLB team?
Joey: I’d have to say the Astros.
Me: Because of Jose Altuve?
Me: Have you ever been to an Astros game?
Joey: No, I haven’t, but I’m trying to go there. Hopefully I can go soon. I also like the Phillies, because of the Bryce Harper [signing].
You say that a long-term goal of yours is to get into a D1 school for baseball. Is there any schools that you’d favor going to, or is that thought not a concern of yours because of your age?
Joey: I actually have thought about it, and I’d have to say my favorite D1 school that I’ve seen is Vanderbilt.
Me: Ahh, the Dansby Swanson school.
Joey: Yeah, I love the campus and the coach (Tim Corbin) is one of the best in college right now. I mean, if two schools gave me an offer, and one was offering to play second base, and the other was to play shortstop, I’d take the one where I’d play shortstop.
If you had one piece of advice to say to any aspiring baseball player who wants to be as good as you are, what would you say?
Joey: Well, when I was a kid, I wanted to be someone. I think everyone wanted to be someone when they were little. When I was at the Tigers Spring Training, Miguel Cabrera told me,
“Don’t be anyone that isn’t yourself. Just be yourself.”.
I mean, you can model your routine off of me, you can take tips from me, but when you’re at the plate, don’t think about me. Only think about yourself and what you’re going to do in that at-bat. Just think about hitting the ball, and running to first base.
I and my colleagues would like to thank Joey for taking the time to do an interview with The Dugout. If you want to check out his social media and follow him on his journey, you can follow him on Instagram at @joeybaseball12.