By Bill Foley
Eric Hart always knew he was going to play baseball.
He told that to Butte Central principal J.P. Williams two years ago. Williams told Hart he was “looking good” on the football field, and asked Hart what he would like to do after high school.
The sophomore said, “‘I want to play baseball,’” Williams recalled Friday afternoon as Hart, now a BC senior, signed to play baseball at the University of Jamestown. “He made it happen.”
Then Williams turned toward Hart, who was sitting between his parents Larry and Julie at the BC Rotunda. “You did what you needed to do. You worked hard on the field and it’s paying off.”
Hart signed his NAIA National Letter of Intent as classmates gathered around with current and former teammates of Hart on the Butte Miners, some who are current Butte High students.
“That was really cool,” Hart said of celebration.
Butte Central football coach Don Peoples Jr. got a good look at Hart on the gridiron, where Hart lettered four years in the trenches for the Maroons. He, too, knew Hart’s heart was in a different sport, even as he earning all-conference honors in football.
“He had a remarkable football career, which we’re really honored and proud of,” Peoples said. “But I always knew baseball was his main love.”
Hart plays tennis for the Maroons, too. He joined the team and played the sport for the first time midway through the 2021 season. On Thursday, Hart teamed with Nick Lester to go 3-0 in matches with Hardin, Dillon and Livingston in Livingston.
“Tennis is fun,” Hart said. “I like tennis.”
Hart, though, is all about baseball. He earned South District All-Conference honors two years in a row. Last year he was all state after batting .404 with 12 doubles and 47 RBIs in 52 games.
“He spends more time on the field than anybody I’ve met in a while,” said Jeff LeProwse, Harts former coach with the Miners. “He works his tail off. He has a very competitive attitude, and he’s just a great kid. He’s a great player to be around.”
The slick-fielding Hart has been playing shortstop for the Miners. He also put in a lot of time at second base over the years.
At Jamestown, Hart said he will probably play third base for the Jimmies.
“I’m cool with third,” he said.
He is also cool with joining former teammate Ryan Wahl, a Butte Central graduate who pitches for Jamestown.
At the North Dakota school, Hart plans to study exercise science with an eye on physical therapy school after graduation.
“Their academics are really good, and that was a big part,” Hart said of picking Jamestown. “They have a good baseball program. It’s a winning program.”
Hart will head out to Jamestown in August. First, though, he will look to help the Butte Miners continue their winning ways under new head coach Jim LeProwse.
The Miners open the season May 7 in Great Falls.
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