COLUMBIA — It was the fourth inning and Ehrich Chick nearly slung a pitch into the backstop. Only a jumping catcher Johnny Pipes was there to stop the high fastball.
As Pipes threw the baseball back, Chick couldn't withhold his laughter. He caught the ball and proceeded to walk the batter.
Hickman vs. Southern Boone
When: 5 p.m. Thursday
Where: Hickman High School
But for all the nerves, Chick refocused himself and struck out back-to-back batters to end the inning.
The nerves were settling. He was having fun.
Hickman’s game against St. Charles was the first baseball game of Chick's final season as a Kewpie. It was also the first game since his father Bobby Chick resigned as head coach for the team last season.
“He told me to, ‘Just go out there and have fun,’” Ehrich Chick said.
Ehrich Chick did just that. In addition to his pitching performance, he hit a run scoring double in the third inning of the Kewpies' 2-0 win.
Even though playing without his father coaching was emotionally tough, it was still baseball, Ehrich Chick said.
“Just him physically not being here is the only different part,” Ehrich Chick said. “Coach (Terry) Whitney pretty much took over where we left off, and I really like what he does. It’s almost like having dad here.”
Whitney has Ehrich Chick batting third in the Kewpies’ lineup. He started the game at third base, he pitched the third and fourth innings, he ended the game in left field.
“I know it’s been tough,” Whitney said. “But I’ve been very impressed with the way he’s handled it.”
Ehrich Chick is not known for his pitching, but he still threw two scoreless innings. Whitney noticed that it was the first time he’s ever seen Erich Chick pitch in a game over the past few seasons.
“He’s a baseball player, and that’s what we need,” Whitney said.
As he recollected past experiences with his father coaching, Ehrich Chick could only smile.
His favorite memory came against Helias in the district tournament last year. He hit his first home run of the season, but what he remembers most was the satisfaction in shaking his father’s hand as he rounded third base.
“It was good seeing him smile,” Ehrich Chick said.
In Bobby Chick’s only season coaching, the Kewpies finished 8-13. As an assistant coach, Bobby Chick helped coach three Hickman teams to district titles in only four years, including a Class 4 state championship in 2005.
Already having signed with Mesa State College, a Division II team in Grand Junction, Colo., Ehrich Chick is aiming to fulfill goals.
Bobby Chick has motivated Ehrich Chick with stories about his high school state championship.
“I wish I won a district title, maybe state with my dad,” Ehrich Chick said. “I dedicate this season to him.”