The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Former Eagle makes debut in MLB

Pitching in the major leagues is a childhood dream for many young baseball players, but for one LAHS graduate, it’s becoming a reality. Erik “Deuce” Johnson ‘08, is stepping onto the mound at Yankee Stadium for the Chicago White Sox in his first Major League Baseball (MLB) game. He was called up on Monday and flew to New York in order to pitch on Wednesday in MLB debut against the New York Yankees. But there’s much more to Johnson than just his 90 mile per hour fastball.

Johnson has always had a knack for pitching. In the prestigious Little League Tournament of Champions, Johnson threw a perfect game. His baseball career continued as he attended Los Altos High School.

Erik played his first varsity game during the preseason as a sophomore. He played third base and the first two ground balls were hit to him. They both flew right through his legs. The assistant coach at the time, Jon Buurma, said to head coach, Sandy Wihtol, “What’s up with that, you said this kid is really good?” He went on to prove his value for the school’s baseball program.

During his time at Los Altos, he made a huge impact as he helped the team win its first ever Central Coast Section (CCS) division two championship. He then led his team to the championship game in 2008 with a homerun and a dominant pitching performance in the semifinal victory over Aptos High School. Erik not only pushed himself to get better each and every day; he elevated the players around him with his competitive drive every time he stepped onto the field.

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“He is one of, if not the most intense guys I’ve ever met in everything he does,” former teammate and Los Altos graduate Kellen McColl ‘07 said.

His work ethic and determination to get better proved to be the keys to his success. Even though he was gifted with natural athletic ability, he never took it for granted. He was often the last player running poles after pitching.

“I played catch in the off-season with Erik and he would break my glove all the time from 120 feet away,” Johnson’s former teammate Connor Lanman ‘09 said.”It was literally absurd. No one works harder than Erik.”

A memorable high-school game was when Los Altos played powerhouse Saint Francis, and Erik came in to close the game. He saved the game on three consecutive strikeouts on nine pitches total. But for Johnson, this was no rare feat. He was also the winning pitcher in a  victory against the number five ranked team in the state, Monterey High School.

“He was never a guy you had to tell to keep his head up, or to stay focused, or give extra effort,” former teammate Brett Perrotta ‘07 said. “Those things were just burned in him.”

This mindset not only proved to be successful for him at Los Altos, but led him toward a baseball scholarship to the University of California at Berkeley, where he continued pitching and playing third base. He played hard on the baseball diamond and in the classroom.

“[Erik] had then as he has now, incredible work ethic trying to improve himself both as a player but also, making sure he excelled in the classroom,” said Los Altos baseball coach and former MLB pitcher Sandy Wihtol.

After a successful career at Cal, Erik was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft. This opportunity was one he had been waiting for. From there he has worked his way through Single, Double and Triple A to where he is now: the starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox.

“It could not happen to a better and more sincere person who I believe will have a very successful and long career in the Major Leagues as a pitcher,” Wihtol said.

His major league debut for the Chicago White Sox is Wednesday, September 4, at 7:05 p.m. Eastern Time at Yankee Stadium versus the New York Yankees.

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