TJ grad Fairman wraps up successful baseball career at Cal (Pa.) | TribLIVE.com
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TJ grad Fairman wraps up successful baseball career at Cal (Pa.)

Ray Fisher
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Submitted
Thomas Jefferson grad Eric Fairman competes for Cal (Pa.) during the 2019 baseball season.
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Thomas Jefferson grad Eric Fairman competes for Cal (Pa.) during the 2019 baseball season.

The phrase “Big Man on Campus” could have applied to Eric Fairman at Cal (Pa.) this year.

Also, possibly, the “Big E.”

Fairman, a former three-sport standout at Thomas Jefferson, recently wrapped up an outstanding four-year career with the Vulcans baseball program.

And he elevated it to sensational level this spring. A senior first baseman, Fairman was lauded as the West Division Athlete of the Year in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.


“The award basically summed up all the work I put in over the course of my career,” Fairman said. “Everything I did, starting way back when I was just a young kid, led up to that one very special moment.”

This spring, Fairman led the Vulcans in home runs with 10 and was second in RBIs (42), runs (44) and total bases (99). He ranked among the top five in the conference with a .372 batting average, .669 slugging percentage and .503 on-base percentage.

He also paced the league and ranked third in NCAA Division II with 44 stolen bases, which broke the school record and tied for the second most in conference history.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Fairman was a multiple all-region selection, was named PSAC West Athlete of the Week three times and repeated as an All-PSAC West first-team selection.

He was only the third player in program history to record at least 20 homers, 110 RBIs and 85 stolen bases. He ended his college career ranked among the top 10 in home runs and steals in program history.

“I am very grateful for what the sport of baseball has done for me in college,” Fairman said. “Obviously, there are the individual awards that I will cherish forever: being ranked among the top 10 in school history in home runs, the stolen base record, the all-region and All-American honors, the Player of the Year award.

“However, I think what I will remember the most are all the places I’ve been and people I’ve met thanks to this sport.”

Batting primarily third in the order, Fairman totaled 21 extra-base hits (10 homers, eight doubles, three triples) while leading the team with 16 multi-hit games in 2019. He batted .373 with runners in scoring position and paced the club with 20 two-out RBIs.

Cal (Pa.) finished 37-15, 19-9 in the PSAC, setting school records for wins in both categories.

The highlight of the playoffs for the Vulcans was an 11-9 win over nationally ranked and top-seeded Millersville.

“Some of the words I would use to describe my senior season are ‘extraordinary,’ ‘remarkable,’ ‘magical,’ ‘inspirational,’ ” said Fairman, who bats right-handed and throws left-handed. “The list could go on and on. We just had it in our minds we were going to do something special, and no one was going to stop us.

“I think the coaching staff did a great job changing the culture of the program, and they deserve a ton of credit.”

Fairman was a four-year starter at Cal. He was a three-sport standout at TJ, reeling in four letters in baseball, three in basketball and one in football (in his senior year, the only year he played).

“We won 37 games (this season). That’s a school record,” Fairman said. “It’s not going to be the wins I remember 20 years from now. It will be the people I did it with, my teammates. I imagine I’ll miss seeing them and talking to them the most.

“The same can be said for my athletic career at TJ. Our 2014 class was very unique because of how close we were. I could sit here and tell you over 100 memories I have from high school.”

Here are his top three:

• First football game under the lights on a Friday night.

“I played football in seventh grade and not again until my senior year of high school. I actually did not even join the team until Week 2. I joined on a Wednesday, and my parents did not know I was playing until that Friday night.”

• Sophomore baseball season, playoff game against Blackhawk.

“The pitching matchup was Brendan McKay versus Greg Schneider. I just remember being in awe of how many people were at that game, a game in which I started.”

• Senior basketball season.

“We went 23-4, another school wins record.”

Fairman has maintained a 3.65 GPA while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in middle level education/grades four through eight, with a concentration in math and social studies.

Off the field, the Vulcans slugger was named Academic All-American by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Fairman is set to graduate this fall after he completes his student teaching duties.

“I will put a great deal of focus into that,” he said. “However, I will continue to stay ready (in baseball) in case a team comes calling. I fully intend on trying to extend my playing career as long as I can.

“I also have plans to coach high school baseball and basketball, as well as youth basketball. This will be my fifth year coaching in the TJ youth metro basketball organization. This will be my first year in the high school ranks.”

The Fairman family is extremely athletic driven and exceptionally community proud in the West Jefferson Hills area.

“I have great relationships with young kids all throughout this community,” Fairman said. “Nothing excites me more than watching a young kid face a challenge head on, struggle and eventually succeed. I guess that is why I enjoy coaching so much.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

Categories: Sports | College-District
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