May 3, 2006
After finishing second in the Big Ten baseball regular season standings last year, senior first baseman Eric Wolfe and the Purdue Boilermakers are making an end-of-the-season run toward another big conference finish. The North York, Ontario native is batting .358 this season and ranks second on the team with 37 RBI. While he is preparing to close out his collegiate career, Wolfe talks about taking his talent to the business world, sharing the same roster as his younger brother, and how easy it was to pass up the MLB draft.
Looking back at your college career at this point, what are your overall thoughts on where you are at?
I'm really happy to be at this point. I've been able to play all four years and contribute. Our team has been competitive all year and my last three years. It has just been awesome.
With two player of the week honors this year and the team's best start under coach Doug Schrieber, how has this season compared to your expectations so far?
I think it has met them. We had high expectations coming into this year. We had a big core group of guys coming back from last year's team when we came so close last year. We expected to be here and we hope it continues as we keep going in the season. I think we have as good a shot as anyone else (at the Big Ten Tournament title), it's close and we're right there. We can't really talk about it too much just yet but I think we definitely have as good of a shot as anyone else.
With your first homerun coming this season and two in the same week, what was that experience like?
It was just a relief (laughing). I thought that I'd hit it out like that but it didn't happen. It finally did, so it was just like a weight lifted off my shoulders I guess.
What was the first thing that went through your mind when you saw it going out of the park?
How would you describe your game and what are your biggest strengths?
I think that I play the game hard, and I try to pay attention to all the little things to help the team win. I've made some adjustments in my swing and I feel that I've become a better hitter this year.
What is the biggest change you have made in game during your four seasons at Purdue?
I think that my attention to detail, being able to stay focused and really know what I'm supposed to be doing at every time a ball's pitched. That's the biggest thing because before you just thought you come through and play a game and then that's it, but you really have to work every single pitch, every play.
Why did you choose Purdue?
I came here to visit, met the coaching staff and really had a connection with them. I think that's the main reason I came. I really liked what they had laid out for me, the style of play they had here. It was probably the best fit for me.
Being from Toronto, how drastic of a change was it to move to West Lafayette?
It's a pretty big change, coming from such a big city and then to a small university town in the Midwest. It's a big change, but it's not that bad because there are so many students in the area that you don't really notice it when you're going to class and going about your own life.
You were selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 40th round of the 2002 draft. What was that like? Did you give any thought to playing professionally at the time?
In high school, I was pretty dead-set on going to get an education. I really didn't want to play professional baseball at that point because I didn't think I was ready. I wanted to get an education under my belt to have a fall-back plan because who knows what will happen. It was a bit of a surprise because I had talked to a couple scouts and told them that I wanted to go to a four-year school, but the [draft people?] wanted me to go to a junior college, and I didn't want to do that. I'm taking business management, and if a career in baseball doesn't work out, I'm going to try and get my master's in management.
Who is the toughest pitcher you have faced in college?
I'd say Andrew Miller from North Carolina [No. 1 in the nation in wins with 10]. He pitched a tough game against us earlier this year.
What is your favorite baseball stadium?
I like PNC Park in Pittsburgh. I think the setting, right in the middle of the city makes
Who has been your biggest baseball inspiration?
Definitely my parents. They have always wanted me to succeed, and I've loved baseball ever since I was a kid, so they have been the ones to drive me and push me.
What is the best thing about having your brother, sophomore third baseman Dane Wolfe, on your team?
I just think it's made it a lot easier for him. I know that going to a school can be sorta tough if you don't know anyone. I think it was great for him to have me here to help him. I think he know what he was getting into because I've been here for two years already. I love having him on the team. He's got a distinct personality, and he brings a lot to the team.
Is there is a challenging aspect to it? Do you guys go through the brotherly battles?
(Laughing) We used to, but we've grown up since then. We don't usually have disagreements on anything.
What is the most memorable moment you guys have shared as collegiate athletes?
Definitely I think last year in the Big Ten Tournament when we knocked out regular season champion Illinois and Michigan in one day of the tourney. That was definitely our most memorable moment playing together because our backs were against the wall and we knocked out two teams in two great games on the same day.
What kind of success do you expect for him in the rest of his career?
I think he's going to be a steady player. He's got to keep working out and get a little bit bigger, but you know that you can expect for him to be a solid defender. He's able to put the ball in play, move the ball around and move guys up. He's as good of a team player as you could ask for.
What are your goals for the rest of your career?
I definitely always have my eyes set on the Big Ten Championship, especially this year. Then move on to the postseason and go to a regional, what's best for the team.