Alumni Profile

Eric Munson '99

Stepping Up to the Plate For three years Eric Munson ’99 was a star on USC’s baseball team, helping the Trojans win the

1998 national championship and leading them to the playoffs in his other two seasons.
A remarkably short time after leaving USC, he is helping out again. Munson, who was the third overall pick in the 1999 major league baseball draft (chosen by the Detroit Tigers), has donated $100,000 toward the renovation of his old stomping grounds, Dedeaux Field. His gift will help construct a players’ lounge area within an expanded and spruced-up home clubhouse. Munson is the youngest USC athlete to make a gift of this size.
“USC paid my way all the time I was there,” Munson said from Florida, where the former Trojan catcher is currently being groomed as a major league first baseman by playing for the Tigers’ AA minor league team, the Jacksonville Suns. “This is the least I could do in return.”
Munson was well aware that Dedeaux Field – while still a beautiful ballpark – was showing its age. He could see the difference when USC played on the road in newer stadiums.
“The clubhouse at Dedeaux was small and limited as to facilities players need to relax – a good entertainment center and comfortable furniture, for instance,” says Munson. “I kept that in my mind and thought that if I could ever do something to help the program I would do it.”

Eric Munson, now a first baseman for the Detroit Tigers’ minor league team in Jacksonville, Fla., hasn’t forgotten his alma mater.

USC BASEBALL COACH Mike Gillespie, who valued the team-first attitude Munson exemplified as a player, is equally appreciative of his unselfish contribution as an alumnus. “We’re very pleased and grateful that Eric would do this,” said Gillespie. “It’s a great gesture on his part and very unusual for a player who’s just starting his career.”
If his college playing days are any indication, Munson’s will indeed be a big-hit, big-league career. In three seasons as a Trojan, Munson batted .336, .392 and .346. When USC won the national title in 1998, he batted .476 in the College World Series and made the All-College World Series team. He was also named The Sporting News National Freshman of the Year in 1997 and a first-team All-American in 1999.
Munson is leaving the particulars for the use of his gift to the discretion of the athletic department. “I’m just glad to be able to help create the lounge,” he says.
“For baseball players, the clubhouse and field are their place of work. Like anyone else in their workplace, they’ll perform better in good surroundings.”

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Photos courtesy of the Jacksonville Suns

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