Last week we checked in on former Minnesota Twins outfielder Jacque Jones and saw that that Jones is currently coaching at the Double-A level in the San Diego Padres organization. Today we are going to check in on another former Twins’ player, who happened to be a teammate of Jones and is also making a career for himself in the coaching ranks. That player is former Twins’ pitcher Eric Milton.
Milton was acquired by the Twins in February 1998 as the main piece of the Chuck Knoblauch trade along with Brian Buchanan, Cristian Guzman, Danny Mota and cash. Milton would make his major league debut with the Twins on April 5, 1998, at age 22, and would pitch with the team all the way through the 2003 season. Following that season, the Twins dealt Milton to the Philadelphia Phillies for Nick Punto and Carlos Silva.
After a successful 2004 season that saw Milton go 14-6 with the Phillies, Milton’s production took a turn for the worse over his next four seasons which were spent with the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers. Eventually, Milton would retire following the 2009 season with the Dodgers at age 33 and finished with a career 89-85 record with a 4.99 ERA in 270 starts.
Although his stint with the Twins may have been shorter than most fans—or people within the organization—would have liked, Milton still produced many memories over his years as a Twins’ player. On September 11 of 1999, he pitched the fifth no-hitter in Twins history during a 7-0 win over the then Anaheim Angels. During the 2001 season, Milton has his best year as he went 15-7 with a career best 4.32 ERA for the resurgent Twins. That year he also earned his only all-star appearance in Seattle.
Many thought that Milton would become the next great Twins’ pitcher and some even tabbed him as their future ace. However, as in life, things don’t always work out the way people expect them to. It was unfortunate that Milton’s career trajectory didn’t follow the path that many had hoped it would, but Milton’s grit and demeanor never wavered. When many players would make excuses for their injury misfortunes or give up after an unsuccessful season, Milton remained steadfast in his commitment to career.
His hard work would pay off during his final season when he received one last shot at the majors with the Dodgers. While there, Milton put up a 2-1 record with a 3.80 ERA over five starts for the Dodgers. While those stats only show a small sample size and may not look overly impressive, they show a dramatic improvement over the 16-27 record and 5.83 ERA that Milton garnered during his previous three seasons.
Since retiring from baseball in 2009, Milton has remained close to the game of baseball and has spent a large portion of his time coaching at the collegiate and high school ranks. Milton started as a volunteer assistant in 2011 and later was promoted to interim coach at the University of Maryland in June of 2012. After two seasons with the Terrapins, Milton became the head coach for Severna Park High School in Severna Park, Maryland this past October.
Milton sounds like he has found a career after baseball that suits him well. From all indications, Milton appears to be a very successful coach and has a bright future ahead of him in the coaching profession. It is a shame that Milton couldn’t become the ace of the Twins’ pitching staff like many fans and coaches had hoped for, but it is nice to see that Milton hasn’t let his career misfortunes affect his life after baseball. At any rate, I wish him nothing but the best at Severna Park and have no doubt that he will continue to be successful wherever he decides to coach.