Eric Seeliger may catch his share of fly balls in left field for the McFarland Muskies of Home Talent League baseball. But his other passion is to fly with hopes of someday piloting a commercial jet airliner.
The 2016 McFarland graduate is a certified flight instructor for North Star Aviation at the Mankato Regional Airport in Minnesota and attends classes at Minnesota State University as a professional flight major.
He first learned to fly four years ago as a high school senior at Wisconsin Aviation at Truax Field. Seeliger commutes every weekend back to McFarland to play for the Muskies on Sunday afternoons (he travels by car, not airplane). The team is no doubt grateful he is willing to do that.
From the leadoff spot, Seeliger has 15 hits in his 38 at-bats for a .395 average. He said there is nothing complicated to his approach at the plate, and he enjoys the opportunity of getting on base and “setting the table” for the Muskies big bats in the lineup.
“I keep it simple when I go up there and keep my eye on the ball,” Seeliger said. “I try not to think too much and see what happens. I’m trying to look for mistakes: hanging fast balls, hanging breaking balls.”
Team manager Justin Hanson has one word to describe Seeliger’s performance this season: awesome.
“He would love to make the (Home Talent Baseball) all-star game this year,” Hanson said with a chuckle. “He’s playing for it.”
While Seeliger has the numbers to play in the all-star game and perhaps lead the Southeast Section in hitting, he said his own personal goals are not important and he only cares about what’s best for the team. He said it is helpful to have a number of former McFarland high school teammates on the Muskies. Nick Herbst plays alongside him in center field, and their chemistry has led to solid defense in the outfield.
“I played left and center when I was a senior in high school,” Seeliger said. “We know each other. It’s a matter of seeing the ball come off the bat and getting a good read on it.”
Seeliger also enjoys playing at the new baseball diamond where turf was installed last spring. Fans enjoy seeing his head-first slides when stealing bases or running to the plate, and he said doing that is sometimes more practical than sliding feet first.
“You can touch the base at a different angle or you can grab it with your hand if you overslide the base especially on the turf, where it’s easy to slide super far,” Seeliger said. “I try to do it whenever I can. It’s fun, and it looks cool.”
Yet, flying head-first into bases doesn’t compare to the rewards he receives from teaching people how to fly in the cockpit of an airplane.
“It’s just a great feeling to teach someone what you love,” Seeliger said. “I learned to fly four years ago, and now I’m teaching and handing that passion out to someone else.”