CARY, N.C. -- When Eric Angerer gets hit by a pitch, it's always good when it just grazes his jersey a little bit.
Those, he barely even notices before he trots down to first. Getting nicked in the back and the triceps isn't too bad, either. They might sting a little bit depending on the pitcher, but if it means getting on base and helping out his team, he'll take it.Of course, he would rather be the one doing the damage and hitting the ball with his bat. Yet since he was maybe 13 or so, getting hit by pitches has almost been a way of life for the native of Danville, Calif. He got pelted four times once during a high-school game in Cooperstown, N.Y., and it didn't stop once he got to college.
"It's all about me competing and helping my team win by finding a way to get on base," Angerer said. "I don't know how it started. If the ball came at me, I wouldn't move."
He was beaned by teammate Ryan O'Shea during an intrasquad game his freshman year, and he also took a 94 mph fastball on his leg this summer. Angerer doesn't remember the pitcher, but knows that he was "some big lefty" who signed with the Minnesota Twins after their weekend series.
Get hit as many times as Angerer has, and the details aren't important.
Last year at Chico State, Angerer was plunked 29 times. That's a single-season school record, and for his career, Angerer has a total of 44 HBPs to his painful credit. That's tops for not only his school, but the California Collegiate Athletic Association as well.
"It was a fun little run there," Angerer continued. "All my teammates and all the media would always say, 'Hey, you're getting close to this record.' It was more like I was just trying to help my team out and find a way on base.
"I was the leadoff hitter, and any way I could get on was my goal. The guys behind me were so good at what they did, basically if I got on, I almost would score every time it seemed like."
When Angerer topped the conference mark, he received a note from former recorder-holder Andre Gomez, who played at Cal Poly Pomona in 1999 and 2000.
"As the former record holder, I understand that most casual observers won't look at the HBP record as a record to admire like they do home runs or RBIs," Gomez wrote. "But if you truly understand baseball, you know that every base runner counts and runners on base equals runs scored, and runs scored equals victories. In my personal opinion, if I didn't leave the field every day dirty and with a new bruise, I just didn't feel like I played that day."
Gomez ended the note, "from one grinder to another." And that's what Angerer is, a grinder. He can hit, obviously, to the tune of a .282 batting average this year. But if he can get hit, then that's fine, too.
Actually, Angerer has company on both the Wildcats roster and here in the DII World Series this week. He and teammate Cody Slader both have 15 HBPs in 2014, and Ruben Padilla is just one behind. Incredibly, all 17 players who had more than one at bat in 2014 were hit at least once.
Gordon Deacon had just five at-bats, and yep, he got hit, too.
Angerer trails no less than four other players here in the DII World Series this week in career HBPs - Patrick Grady of Lander, the current active leader with 76; Zach Gawrych and Connor Obrochta, both of Tampa, and Erik Lunde, also of Lander.
Each, though, has played 80 to 100 or so more games than Angerer. Wherever he might be on the list, Angerer going to do his best to get on base no matter how painful it might be.
"We joke about it," Angerer said with a laugh. "Our team mantra is we try to get 90 feet any way we can - getting hit, getting walked, reaching by error, getting a hit. It's more like a pride thing and buying into the program in what we do. It really shows with all those guys getting hit."